Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Duck-Fried Chicken (Like Chicken Fried Steak, only with duck instead of chicken and chicken instead of steak. Wait... what?)

For this, you'll need a really big, high-sided cast-iron or stainless steel fry pan. And a spatter screen, unless you enjoy getting hit with flying globs of searing hot fat. In which case, go to town without the spatter screen. Hell, do it naked if you really love the hurt.

Melt 1 to 2 lbs of duck or goose fat or lard in the pan over medium heat. The amount depends on the size of your pan. You want 1-1/2 inches of hot liquid fat in there. You can re-use the fat several times - just strain through a fine strainer, after it's cooled to room temperature, into a non-plastic container for the next time.

Get the fat as hot as it can get on just above medium heat. Not quite medium-high. That will mean leaving it to melt and pre-heat for a good 15 minutes. Carefully slide unseasoned skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces into the fat. Don't drop them in because you're scared of the hot fat - you will just cause a big splash and burn yourself! Just slide them in, nice and easy-like. Don't overcrowd the pan, either - leave a little cushion of space around each piece. Put your spatter screen over the pan and let it bubble and fry for about 10 -15 minutes until light golden on the bottom. Flip each piece over (use long tongs and be careful, damnit!). Replace the spatter screen and cook for another 10 to 15 until light golden and crispy all over. Remove the chicken to a plate lined with paper toweling. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Let cool at least 5 minutes (10 is better) before eating, as it holds on to the heat like crazy and you might burn your mouth, otherwise.

*Note: without a flour coating, the chicken will never get as dark golden as it would with traditional fried chicken, but it will be just as crispy. A light amber colour is sufficient. You will get a really really crunchy crispy skin and a juicy interior. Use thighs or legs or wings - they are so much better than breasts. I must insist on this point! This is my favourite fried chicken and so much nicer and less greasy tasting than flour-coated fried chicken.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Seasoning a cast-iron pan

I've seen many sites out there for how to season a cast-iron pan and most of them are wrong. If you ever see any recommendations to season a pan with vegetable oil of any kind, then you'll know that whoever is writing it has no idea what they're talking about. Vegetable oil leaves a sticky black coating on your pans that is almost impossible to get off and totally interferes with the natural 'seasoning' or non-stick layer that you're trying so hard to build.

Here's a good site that has it right. They are selling things on that site and I have no affiliation with them and have no idea if their products are good or complete garbage. But they, at the very least, seem to know how to take care of cast-iron cookware.

Hmm, if the vegetable oil is leaving a sticky black coating on your pans, imagine what it's doing inside your body... :o Food for thought!