Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chicharrones De Pollo

I have to say, this month's issue (September) of Gourmet is absolutely amazing. It's like a mini Latin cookbook. I usually flip through each issue, tabbing the recipes that look like winners. I average around 5 or so each time, though the May issue was a clear winner with 10 or so. This time, wow. Just about everything looks great.

I gave these chicken nuggets a shot as I wanted something comfort foodish that Channing would like while pushing a flavor envelope a bit for him. Also, in the Indian class, I realized that it had been years since I had fried anything and I'd never been very good at breading anything.

The only adjustments I made to the recipe was that I used white rum instead of dark and chicken breast instead of thighs. In the case of the rum, I was working with what I could get. It looks like half or more of our liquor is gone. I got rid of a lot when we moved, but I'm certain I kept the party staples. It's either buried in the storeroom (though I looked) or the workers going through the punch list have helped themselves. Grrrr. So, I had to borrow the rum from the neighbors. The breast substitution was because I just don't like dark meat, period.

The result? Awesome. They have a great, great flavor. I thought that you wouldn't be able to taste the marinade, but it was just perfect. The lime really comes through even after the frying.

I did have to practice a few times on the frying. I think the heat may have been a bit too high, as I was pulling them out based on color at about 4 minutes (a touch over 1/2 the recommended time). The chicken was thoroughly cooked, so that was okay, but there's an adjustment needed.

Breading went well, overall, though I have to look up the two-handed method. I ended up with a lot of the flour mixture built up on my fingers. I also realized just now that I forgot and skipped the step of patting dry the chicken before breading. Oops.

Still, this one's getting a repeat performance. BTW - Chicharrones are apparently usually seasoned fried pork rinds. Yuck. I'm inferring that the flavors are the carry-over from the original.

I'd link to the recipe on epicurious.com, but apparently not all of the recipes are up yet. So, in all of it's copyright flaunting glory, is the recipe. The recent redesign of epicurious absolutely stinks. It's a great on-line resource, but man alive it's slow. I think the direct links to recipes work pretty well, but for cruising through the site, well, you've been warned.


These irresistible nuggets, a specialty of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, are here made with boneless chicken
instead of the usual chicken-on-the-bone.

1/4 cup amber or dark rum

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
About 2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
ACCOMPANIMENTS: lime wedges; hot sauce

* Stir together rum, lime juice, soy sauce, and sugar in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved. Add chicken and stir to coat. Marinate at room temperature 25 minutes.
* While chicken finishes marinating, heat 1 inch oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
* Meanwhile, whisk together flour, paprika, and 112 teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl. Drain chicken and pat dry. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess, then transfer to a plate.
* Fry chicken in 3 batches, turning occasionally, until deep golden brown and cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes per batch. (If chicken darkens too quickly, reduce heat.) Transfer to paper towels to drain.

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