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Jul 31, 2014 07:34 AM

What's for Dinner #316 - the Hot August Night edition [through August 4, 2014]

There's a little something for your Wayback Machine, folks. ;-)

While it's actually quite pleasant in my area, I do know that many are dealing with scorching heat - hopefully you're making something nice and cool for your meals as we enter the dog days of summah. What's cooking?

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  1. As for me - I think there's a surprise 40th birthday gathering for a co-worker tonight at the restaurant next to my workplace. So I'm assuming libations will be drunk and various Scooby Snacks will be et. I don't, however, plan to stay long.

    1. There were great looking green beans at the grocery store yesterday, and I have most of a can of coconut milk open in the fridge, so I'm going with Thai curry (probably green). Also in the mix will be firm tofu cubes, red bell pepper, and possibly potato. I used to put the kitchen sink (er, crisper drawer) in my curries but have learned the value of restraint, especially for optimal veggie texture.

      I could use some advice for tomorrow night's dinner; friends of ours are coming over. I'd like to do fried chicken as the main, and this recipe was recommended:

      A bit skeptical that such a brief soak in spiced milk and eggs is sufficiently flavorful. Does anyone have a favorite recipe? Suggestions for the breading? We like a thick, crispy, crunchy crust a la Popeyes. I'm nervous about brining or overmarinating the meat -- don't want that springy, hammy, texture.

      16 Replies
      1. re: ChristinaMason

        Christina, if I remember correctly, I think rjbh20 has an excellent fried chicken method/recipe. Maybe roxlet can nudge him for the buttermilk soak ingredients?

        1. re: ChristinaMason

          Green bean green curry (GBGC?) is a good thought. I was thinking of stir frying green beans with ground pork but I did that recently so maybe curry. Over rice for the fam, over zucchini noodles for me.

          I also want to make these baby stuffed eggplant but that is probably a weekend project:

          1. re: tcamp

            Isnt the green bean & pork thing a classic Sichuan dish? I'm sure I've had that in a restaurant.

            1. re: Harters

              Yes, mine is loose interpretation.

            1. re: rjbh20

              I'm not sure if that's helping or gloating ;)

              I think I'll combine ATK and Keller's recipes and see how it goes. I've read the CH threads and feel reasonably comfortable.

              1. re: ChristinaMason

                IIRC, Keller's calls for garlic powder, which is a travesty. Don't know about ATK but they probably overcomplicate it like everything else. Here's what you do:

                Cut up a fryer. If it's a typically large supermarket bird, whomp the breast in two. Make stock out of the back, neck & wing tips -- you'll need it for the gravy.

                Cover the chicken in buttermilk to which you have added plenty of salt -- think of this as the brine. Also many grindings of black pepper, a dose of cayenne and a generous pinch of dried thyme. The latter is mostly for appearance. If you get the urge to add garlic powder, onion powder, MSG or anything else, stop now and get a bucket from the Colonel.

                Let it sit for 15 minutes to 4 hours. Don't think the buttermilk will "soak into" the chix -- it doesn't. The reason you use buttermilk is (a) its thick, so it holds more flour, making a better crust and (b) historically it was cheap and available.

                Make a dredge of equal parts rice flour and AP flour. Admittedly this is a departure from tradition, but it works. All AP is OK, but doesn't get as crisp. Also season the flour with table salt (not coarse), black pepper and a little cayenne.

                Fry in about an inch of peanut oil in a cast iron skillet at about 320 entry temp. The chix should sit on the bottom of the pan, not float. Pay attention to the heat and turn the pieces several times (carefully so you don't knock off the crust). Oil temp will drop when you first add the chicken but will rise as it cooks off the water, so you need to keep an eye on it.

                When it looks like it needs another few minutes, take it out, put on a cooling rack on a sheet pan and put in a 150-200 degree oven to rest for about 10 minutes. You'll see a puddle of oil in the pan and the skin will be fabulously crisp.

                Use a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking fat and the stock you made earlier to make gravy for your rice, mashed or biscuit. If anyone puts it on the chicken, don't invite them back.

                1. re: rjbh20

                  I want to have chicken and biscuits at *your* house!

                  1. re: mcsheridan

                    Excellent choice. The pole beans, squash casserole & macaroni & cheese at good too...

                  2. re: rjbh20

                    When is dinner? I'll bring the wine (or beer-your choice).

                    1. re: gourmanda

                      Right behind ya. I'll bring dessert.

              2. re: ChristinaMason

                Don't trust anyone who throws out the chicken gizzards when there's batter around! Go with Keller. If you like a thick, crunchy crust on your fried chicken, double dip in seasoned flour and buttermilk. Tossing some bacon ends or country ham into the oil prior to frying your chicken guarantees success. You can also fry the chicken until golden, hold and then fry the chicken again before serving for double fried crunch.

                If you use Keller's brine, 12 hours is plenty of time. I've had a couple extra-salty dinners after leaving my chicken in the brine too long.

                1. re: JungMann

                  where you been, JM?
                  hope your employment issues are clearing up for you.
                  missing your food!

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    I actually was away on my first-ever leisure vacation so I had limited internet access. Now I'm back, with a healthy bit poutine and foie gras weight as a souvenir of my trip to Montreal so salad is in order.

                    Tonight I defrosted the pulled pork I made right before leaving, crisped it up in a pan and tossed it with Boston lettuce, Vidalia onions, tomatoes, avocado and kimchi. Dressed with chipotle dressing and lao gan ma. Some yogurt swirled with tahini would have been nice here, but alas, there was none to be found. I did, however, nab some avocado-coconut sorbet from the freezer for dessert.

                    1. re: JungMann

                      well, you did Montreal right! i only had the poutine there, not the foie gras...

                  2. re: JungMann

                    Lots of ways to fry chicken and they all work. I'm a big fan of Keller's Ad Hoc fried chicken, Emeril Lagasse's buttermilk fried chicken and so many more. The LA board has a great thread on fried chicken going on now (DOTM). Maybe check it out.

                    Frying in Crisco appeals to me but your tastes may vary.

                2. Hot August Night is right! Our lows have been in the 90's. How people lived before AC is something I'll never wrap my head around. Tonight is going to be empanadas with ground beef and veg. Rice and red beans on the side. Tomorrow, Pap, the hound and I are headed to a little town called Bisbee for the weekend. We're both fans of crime novels set in this tiny western town, it's about 10 degrees cooler, and the food looks promising!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: alliegator

                    It is sooo hot. I feel ya on the AC thing.

                    Bisbee looks very cool. Wish we had places like that around here!

                  2. I'm baaaaaaack. What a month it has been. Thank you to those who checked in on me.

                    It all started with the bf getting a virus. I caught it a few days in despite our best efforts at quarantining it and ended up in the hospital. After a week recuperating I was back on my feet but had lost so much weight that I ended up back in the ER after fainting and had an emergency central line inserted.

                    Then, my little pup (an 8 lb terrier mutt like Toto) was mauled by another (much larger) dog. It was terrifying. She had an overnight stay in the hospital, some jaw surgery, and lost a bunch of teeth, but thank the lord, she's all better. Her dinners are being cooked daily now--rice, poached chicken breast, and various veggies. She's a happy camper!

                    Speaking of food... there have been lots of homemade pizzas on the menu. The bf has gone freezer diving numerous times for sweet potato/black bean burritos and breakfast burritos (eggs, turkey bacon, peppers, shrooms, cheese) that I make in bulk. He texted me a photo in the hospital of an individual sized chicken pot pie I made and froze a while back.

                    Despite all the chaos we had two beautiful weekend jaunts to Malibu. We stayed on the beach one time, which was glorious, and the second time in the bf's bosses guest house just up the hill from Zuma. Utter heaven!

                    This week: We had pizza on Monday. Tuesday I grilled some BLSL chicken breasts with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, sweet corn on the cob, roasted potato wedges, and David Lebovitz's carrot salad with cilantro in place of the parsley, which worked very well. Last night I grilled up some chicken I'd marinated overnight in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, and sliced garlic. On the side was penne tossed with a roasted red pepper/walnut/garlic/basil/pecorino sauce which was delicious.

                    Tonight no plans as of yet. Will crawl into the fridge and see what needs using.

                    Nice to be back, and I like having so much food to catch up on.

                    Gratuitous shots of L.A. sunsets and our stay on the beach, my 3-months-too-early garden pumpkin harvest, plus our new rescue pup napping at the cabin in Malibu.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: nothingswrong

                      Nice to see you back, and sorry you had a tough go with your health. It all looks lovely!

                      1. re: nothingswrong

                        wow, nw, you've been put through the ringer, for sure. amazing how you always rally. love the pics, especially that cute pup! hope it's mostly smooth sailing for you and your little mauled boy from here on out....

                        1. re: nothingswrong

                          Oooh, the poor puppy! She looks very happy now, though. Mine is a tiny chiweenie and I've had to pull her up by the harness a couple times when we've been charged by a much larger dog during a walk.

                          And I'm sorry to hear abut the virus and hospital stays. Sounds like a rough month -- although you've been making up for it beautifully with all that wonderful food and sunsets and beaches... Hope this month is a bit more quiet for you.

                          1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                            That's our new pup, a pit that my bf rescued. He is sweet as could be!

                            The dog that got bit was my other dog, a tiny chi mix whom I've had for over 10 years. She was pretty shaken and in pain for a few days but she's back to her old youthful self now.

                            Thanks for the good wishes!

                          2. re: nothingswrong

                            I have been wondering where you were. Sorry about yet another hospital stay. Glad to see you back. Looks like you are making up for time lost with the cooking though.

                            Another puppy? O my, what a sweetie. Can you handle three? That is a big chore. I have my hands full with two cats and they do the hard part like baths and most entertaining.

                            What cute pumpkins. Whatcha making?

                            1. re: suzigirl

                              Yes, another puppy! The bf's boss adopted him from a rescue; he was about to be euthanized. Unfortunately, her 3 year old daughter was scared of him upon first sight so the bf was ordered to take the dog back. Apparently, in that 45 minute car ride, the bf (who has never had or wanted a dog in his life) fell madly in love and brought the pup home.

                              It is an animal farm over here now. Unfortunately my pit doesn't get along with the new one. So we have to keep them separated, with my little dog running amok. This new boy is just sweet as could be. He makes us laugh nonstop. If Chow let us post videos, I guarantee everyone here would fall in love with him too.

                              Pumpkins are sitting sad and unused on the kitchen table. No idea what to do with them!

                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                Glad to have you back, sorry it was such a rough month!

                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                  My little daschund was charged by a huge dog who wouldn't back off. Luckily there were two of us and my friend scooped up the doxie fast but the big dog kept jumping at her. I screamed and the owner came out of the pizza shop, the dog had escaped from a rear door, and finally got the big white dog under control. The owner scolded me twice for screaming and said his dog only wanted to play. I liked the pepperoni rolls from that place but we are NEVER going back.
                                  I bought some grass fed beef hamburger the other day and fried up hamburgers a couple of times but saved the grease. I made meatloaf from the rest of the meat and used the grease and some beef stock to make a mushroom gravy for the loaf. Organic mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and stewed tomatoes and zucchini for sides. I'm grateful that it was cool enough to use the convection oven.

                                  1. re: givemecarbs

                                    That is so scary. I'll never look at a larger "playing" dog the same again after what we've been through. It only takes one violent incident to get me super paranoid about my baby girl interacting with big dogs. And btw, the owner's nonchalance about what I'm sure was a scary exchange is really rude as a dog owner.

                                    Your meatloaf dinner sounds delicious. I forget to make gravies too often--the bf would love the mushroom one you made.

                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                      Thanks nothingiswrong! I like a nice catsup bark as my friend John calls it on my meatloaf but gravy too. Leftover meatloaf tonite! My friend said that the dog had it's jaw right over my doxie's neck. It can happen so fast. The owner of the pizzeria came out too to see the commotion. I assume he let that dog owner keep his dog in the back of the pizzeria. No apology or anything from him. He did pick up my pocketbook that I had dropped and hand it to me.
                                      I live in the land of suvs and my friend has a theory that the suvs enable dog owners to bring their large dogs more places rather than leaving them at home. Don't even get me started on the telescoping leashes.
                                      Going to make corn and zucchini to go with the leftover meatloaf. There is only a little organic mashed potatoes left and I am out of spuds so I am going to make hot meatloaf sandwiches with leftover gravy over bread.

                                2. It's been so cool here recently at night, I woke up shivering this morning. I guess the hot day/cold night is a typical desert thing, but the summer rain has been happening in the evening instead of the afternoon this year and it cools things off right before it gets dark, and it stays cool until the sun's high the next day. Trust me, I'm not complaining.

                                  We went thrift storing and crabapple picking yesterday and we were so hungry when we got home that I whipped up a quick salsa fresca using some overripe tomatoes from the fridge and a variety of chiles (ranging from mild to scorching hot) from the garden, along with a bit of minced onion, crushed garlic and some lime. We ate it with blue corn tortilla chips as a very late snack, along with a cup of coffee. Neither of us was really hungry for dinner until late, and then we both just scrounged something up from the kitchen. I had frozen fish sticks and a salad.

                                  In the interest of cleaning out the freezer (which is currently packed so full that things fall out every time I open it), I'm thinking of a quick chicken braciole for dinner tonight, stuffed with spinach, lime basil and mozarella. Some homemade sweet potato ravioli on the side (dressed in olive oil and garlic) and, I think, a cucumber salad. I discovered yesterday that the gallon of off apple cider I poured into a growler last fall and stuck in a cupboard actually did turn into apple cider vinegar, so I've got loads of acidic salads and quick pickles in my future.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                    Here's the braciole, still in pan. It turned out delicious, although the ravioli must have thawed at some point, because they were frozen into a block and kind of fell apart when I cooked them. Also, I made some sauteed zephyr squash instead of the cucumber salad. The last of the gin (1 strong drink each, with tonic and lime) and the last of some vodka I bought to make crabapple liqueur (another drink each, with tonic and lemon) on the side. Nick's supernatural brownies, with dulce de leche swirled in, for dessert.

                                    Tomorrow I'm planning some purple potato pierogies with dilled goat cheese filling (which I made today), to be served with brats, homemade sauerkraut and the cucumber salad I skipped tonight.

                                    Saturday will be a recipe I found for "slow cooked Korean beef" -- I'm using shanks instead of the listed chuck. My first ever batch of kimchi should be ready by then. Rice and stir fried broccoli and cauliflower will be the other sides.

                                      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                        Everything sounds, and looks, delicious! Love braciole.