February 29, 2012

Fried Chicken at One Eared Stag

(photo by EatItAtlanta, with additional support from Rowdyfood)
Got together this past Monday with a bunch of oenophiles, foodies, and semi-professional revelers for fried chicken night at One Eared Stag in Inman Park. I'll bet this gets written up by other, more well-versed fried chicken fanatics, but I will say the chicken was really good. Some of the best fried chicken I've had 'round town in a while. It is certainly some of the juiciest fried chicken I've had, and the meat itself was loaded with flavor. Do yourself a favor and try this fried chicken, but do so on Monday nights 'cause that's when it's available.
We also had some bone marrow, tasty almonds and olives, and fried shrimp heads for appetizers. 
There was a lot of wine, too. About 30 bottles of wine scattered among myriad wine glasses. As Oscar Wilde once said, "nothing succeeds like excess," and we did our best to prove that true on Monday night. Now go check out One Eared Stag's fried chicken if you haven't already.

One Eared Stag on Urbanspoon

February 28, 2012

Fun With Duck Fat

If you follow my blog at all, you'll know I'm a fan of duck. It's one of my favorite proteins to work with, but there's also the ancillary benefit of working with duck: duck fat. Below is a picture of the 4 pounds of duck fat I purchased at Your Dekalb Farmers' Market. At $2.99 per pound, it's a relative bargain for the amount of rendered fat one gets.
Granted, raw duck fat is not pretty, but it sure renders into some tasty goodness. It's actually a healthy substitute for other oils, such as butter or vegetable oil. Not sure I'm buying that, but if that makes you feel better...
I rendered the duck fat over low heat for 45 minutes. The smell of rendering duck fat is a very earthy, feral smell, it may take a while to grow on you. It's a smell that drives my black Lab crazy; she waits by the stove for the little nuggets of crisped fat and skin that remain once the rendered fat is strained. 
The four pounds of fat rendered down to about 4 cups of the liquid seen above. This fat, which you can use as any other cooking oil, keeps in the fridge for weeks and in the freezer for months.
I used the majority of this batch of duck fat to confit some whole chicken legs. Basically, you cover the legs in the duck fat and slowly poach in the oven for an hour or so at 180 degrees. Once cooked, let the legs cool in the fat, which solidifies around the chicken (see below). 
The legs, sealed in duck fat, will be fine in the fridge for a couple of weeks. When you are ready for some tasty chicken, you pry a leg out, crisp it up on your stove top for tasty pan-fried chicken. More on this later...

February 21, 2012

2009 Jean Francois Merieau Les Bois Jacou: $14 Well-Spent

The 2009 Jean Francois Merieau Le Bois Jacou is an old vine Gamay from the Touraine area of the Loire Valley. It's an old school, farmer wine that is full of personality. It's earthy, dirty in a good way, and loaded with edgy red fruit. It is a rather austere wine at first and needs some air to open up a bit.

The wine can be found at Tower on Piedmont for $14. If you like wine that tastes like it was made by real farmers, not mass-produced, industrial swill, this wine is for you. For the price, it's a pretty good value.

February 14, 2012

Burgundy, Burgundy: A Couple from 2007

I've posted several times recently about needing to be more in touch with most wine consumers and not so focused on wines that most people can't, won't, and don't ever drink. That being said, I do occasionally have to send some love to the wine I love most, Pinot Noir from Burgundy.
Now for the geeky stuff: the 2007 vintage is not a particularly noteworthy vintage in Burgundy. Considering both 2008 and 2009 have been hyped as great vintages, it's easy to forget an easy and early drinking vintage like 2007. The nice thing about less-heralded vintages if you can often find good deals on them as bandwagon jumpers clamor for the more well-reviewed (read: often over-hyped) vintages.
I've had several really tasty 2007s recently, mostly from the Beaune region, and the two above are from Volnay to be specific.
The 2007s show real finesse, they are pretty wines, ready, in many cases, for drinking now. Sure, they may shut down a bit, only to emerge brilliantly once again in 10 years, but there are some that are right tasty now. I've also had numerous 2007 Village and Bourgogne level wines that were also really tasty early on. If you see a bottle around town in your price range don't be afraid to give when a shot now.

February 8, 2012

Decatur Eats: Big Tex Decatur

I spend a good bit of time eating at Big Tex Decatur, just off the west side of the square in Decatur. That being said, I've never done a blog post Big Tex. No reason for that, really, as I like the place quite a bit. It has more to do with the fact that it's usually pretty dark inside and I never get good pics...and I don't like to do blog posts with nothing but narration...but here goes.

Recently, Big Tex turned out a new menu with a renewed focus on Texas/Southern-style home cooking while dropping the "Mex" from their original Tex/Mex concept. My wife was not happy. A boycott ensured, but I digress. What's left on the menu now is less Tex/Mex (gone are the killer brisket tacos and West TX style stacked enchiladas) and more Texas/Southern-inspired comfort food (chicken fried steak, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken)

On my last visit I tried the fried chicken. I'm no fried chicken connoisseur, but I thought the fried chicken was very good. The crust was airy and crispy, and not at all doughy or soggy. The meat was moist, but lacked a bit of flavor despite the claim of a 24 hour brine. I didn't get much of a punch from the flavor of the chicken. Other current favorites are the carnitas and the Terlingua cheeseburger, a damn tasty burger topped with brisket chili.

The numerous sides at Big Tex are really an area of strength. Smoky collards, decadent and creamy roasted corn, brisket chili, and the pinto beans are all serious winners. And you certainly get your money's worth at Big Tex as the portions are rather huge, which almost guarantees that you'll leave with your next morning's breakfast all set. Provided, that is, you like carnitas and cold fried chicken for breakfast.

Big Tex Cantina on Urbanspoon

February 2, 2012

Is Your Wine Corked?

Have you ever opened a bottle of wine and found it smelled like a wet dog? Or wet cardboard...or a moldy basement? Your first reaction might be, 'huh, this must be a French wine,' but cork taint is a real phenomena and effects around 1% of all wines produced. That may not seem like a big number, and it isn't, really. However, that fact does not make one feel any better when you open a bottle of corked wine and must dump your wine down the sink.
What causes cork taint? Well, I'm no scientist, but it goes something like this: Cork taint is the presence of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA, a chemical compound that arises from airborne bacterial interacting with chlorinated phenolic compounds ), and/or 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA, a chemical compound derived from bacterial interaction with wood material) which has been transferred from the cork. In almost all cases of corked wine the natural aromas of the wine are reduced significantly, and a very tainted wine is quite unpalatable, although totally harmless if you do consume it. 
While the human threshold for detecting TCA is measured in the single-digit parts per trillion, this can vary by several orders of magnitude depending on an individual's sensitivity . Some people, can drink mildly corked wine without a problem. There is a theory that claims that pouring corked wine in a decanter with a wadded up piece of saran wrap will help alleviate the effects of corked wine. I've tried the saran wrap method; it does help remove some of the corked odor, but the wine still felt rather flat as TCA also effects vitality of fruit and acidity in wine over time. 
I recently opened another corked bottle of wine. No one likes a corked bottle of wine, but when that corked wine is a Grand Cru Griotte-Chambertin, Dude is not a happy guy.