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Greek Marinated Fried Chicken
Kotopoulo Tiganito Marinato
Although the method is very similar to the classic marinated and fried chickens of France, the marinade here has a particularly Greek aroma with its oregano, juniper berries, and coriander seeds. The marinade is also lovely on grilled chicken.
Serves 4 to 5
1 frying chicken, weighing no more than 3 pounds, skinned and cut up for frying
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf, crumbled if dried, chopped if fresh
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
6 juniper berries, crushed
6 coriander seeds, crushed
1 cup all-purpose flour
Olive or peanut oil (or a combination), for frying
Parsley or fresh oregano sprigs and 1 1emon cut into wedges, for garnish
One: Wash the chicken and pat dry. Put them in a large non-reactive glass or stainless steel bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, wine, garlic, onion, bay leaf, oregano, juniper berries, coriander seeds, and a few liberal grindings of pepper. Whisk until well-mixed and pour over the chicken, fuming the chicken until it is uniformly coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate, marinating for 2 hours or overnight.
Two: Drain the chicken, pat dry, and sprinkle liberally with salt. Spread the flour on a plate or place it in a paper or large Zip-lock plastic bag. Fill a large cast-iron skillet with enough olive or peanut oil (or combination of both) to come halfway up the sides, about 1 inch deep. Over medium-high heat, bring the oil to 375°F (hot but not smoking).
Three: Beginning with the dark meat roll the chicken in the flour or drop it a few pieces at a time into the bag of flour, close the top, and shake until it is coated. Shake off the excess flour and slip the chicken into the hot fat.
Four: Fry until the bottom is sealed and beginning to color, about 4 minutes. Turn, and brown the second side. Reduce the heat to medium (325°F) and fry, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through and golden, about 15 minutes more.
Five: Lift the chicken from the fat and drain well on a wire rack. Transfer to a platter and garnish with the sprigs of herb and lemon wedges and serve at once.
Notes: The Greeks also half-fry and bake this chicken, which is a good way to prepare it when you have company or are preparing another dish that will require all of your attention. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Fry the chicken in step 4 until it is lightly browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer it to a baking sheet and bake it in the center of the oven until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Supremes de Volaille Cordon Bleu
This old "gourmet" standby can indeed be spectacular, or it can be exceedingly dull. Everything rests on the quality of the ingredients. With good cheese, first-rate ham, homemade crumbs, and a little care in the cooking, you can't go wrong. If, however, you use indifferent, packaged boiled ham and ordinary cheese, and add insult to injury by overcooking them, you'll kill yourself wondering what all the fuss is about.
The ham should not be too thin, only as thin as you can cut it with a knife, so if you are using prosciutto that is sliced to order, don't let them slice it too thin.
2 whole boneless chicken breasts, skinned, split into halves, and trimmed
2 ounces thinly sliced uncooked country ham or prosciutto
4 ounces Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
Peanut oil, for frying
One: Wash the chicken and pat dry. Place the chicken breasts skinned side up on a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Cover them with a second sheet of paper or wrap and, with a flat (not textured) wooden mallet, lightly beat them until flattened to a uniform thinness of less than 1/4 inch. Set aside.
Two: Cut the ham and cheese into thin slices 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long. Break the egg into a shallow bowl and beat until smooth. Spread the crumbs on a second shallow bowl. Spread the flour on a dinner plate.
Three: Lay the chicken pieces on a flat work surface skinned side down. Lightly spread the inside of each breast with a little mustard (don't use too much or the mustard will overpower the other flavors). Stack 2 slices of cheese and a slice of ham (2 if they are very thin) in the center of each breast. Fold over the small side of the breast, then fold each end up, like an envelope, and finally fold over the large side. Make sure that the filling is completely encased. Roll the chicken first in the flour, shake off the excess, and dip each breast in the egg, allowing the excess to flow back into the bowl. Lay it in the crumbs. Roll it carefully so that it doesn't open up (crumbs should not get inside the folds or they won't stay closed when it cooks), patting the crumbs into all sides. When the piece is coated, lay it on a clean, dry plate and repeat until all the pieces are breaded. Set aside for at least half an hour to allow the breading to set. (You may make them several hours or even a day ahead up to this point. Cover and refrigerate, but take them out at least half an hour before cooking.)
Four: Fill a deep Dutch oven, or a deep-fat fryer with enough peanut oil to come halfway up the sides, at least 2 inches deep. Over medium-high heat, bring the oil to 375°F (hot but not smoking). Add the chicken and fry until golden brown, maintaining a temperature of 365°F, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Five: Drain well and serve at once.
Herb-and-Spice Southern Fried Chicken
A certain well-known take-out chicken with eleven herbs and spices is not the only Southern fried chicken that is seasoned with a complex blend of herbs and spices; it is just one of many. You can experiment with the combination until you have your own unique blend. If you don't have a couple of the spices on hand, feel free to omit them. When deep-fried, which is the way I prefer to cook this one, the chicken makes great picnic fare because it stays crispy long after it's cold, and the spice and herb seasoning stands up well to other highly seasoned picnic food.
2 frying chickens, weighing no more than pounds each, cut up for frying
4 cups buttermilk or plain all natural yogurt, stirred until smooth
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (about 8 large cloves)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Lard or peanut oil, for frying
For the herb and spice mix:
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons crumbled dried basil
2 teaspoons bay leaves ground to a powder (use a spice mill or blender)
2 teaspoons crumbled dried oregano
2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage
2 teaspoons crumbled dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
One: Wash the chicken and pat dry. Put the chicken pieces in a large non reactive glass or stainless steel bowl. Stir the garlic into the buttermilk or yogurt. Pour it over the chicken and turn until coated and submerged in the liquid. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour, refrigerated. Meanwhile, combine the spices, herbs, and salt in a bowl and stir until they are evenly blended. Put the flour in a paper or large Zip-lock plastic bag and sprinkle the spice-herb mixture over it. Close the bag and shake until the seasoning is well-distributed.
Two: If you plan to serve the chicken hot, preheat the oven to 150°F. Fit a wire cooling rack on a cookie sheet and set aside. Fill a Dutch oven or deep-fat fryer with enough lard or oil to come halfway up the sides. Over medium-high heat, bring the fat to 375°E (hot but not smoking).
Three: Beginning with the dark meat, lift the chicken pieces out of the marinade one at a time, allowing the excess to flow back into the bowl, and drop them into the bag with the seasoned flour. Close the bag and shake until the chicken is well coated. Lift out of the flour, shake off the excess, and slip enough of pieces into the fat to fill the pan or fryer without crowding it. Deep-fry until the outside is a rich brown and the chicken is tender, maintaining the temperature at 365°F about 15 to 20 minutes, turning the chicken once, if necessary.
Four: Remove the pieces as they are done, drain well, and place on the wire rack set in a cookie sheet. If you want to serve it hot, keep the finished chicken in the warm oven while you fry the second batch.
Hoe cakes are a traditional Southern cornmeal pancake that are supposed to have been so-named because they were originally cooked on the blade of a hoe over an open fire. Though many modern Southern cooks add wheat flour and sugar to the batter, I think either one in cornbread is an aberration. Hoe cakes are the perfect accompaniment for just about any family meal and needn't be limited to the Southern recipes in this book. They're great with an Italian or French sauté.
Makes about 12 cakes
2 cups fine stone-ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder, preferably single-acting
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups whole milk, buttermilk, or yogurt
Oil, melted butter, or lard, for the griddle
One: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 150°F. Mix together the meal, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs and milk or yogurt and beat until they are smooth. Stir this quickly into the dry ingredients, using as few strokes as possible.
Two: Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, brush it lightly with the fat. Using a large, pointed kitchen spoon, take up about 2 tablespoons of the batter and pour it onto the griddle from the pointed end of the spoon (this helps insure that a round cake will form). Repeat until the griddle is full, but not crowded.
Three: Cook the cakes until the bottoms are nicely browned and air holes form in the tops, about 4 minutes. Turn, and cook until the second side is browned, about 3 to 4 minutes longer.
Four: Transfer them to the warm oven and repeat with the remaining batter until all the cakes are cooked. Serve hot, with or without additional butter.