October 5, 2014

HomeCooking: Fried Chicken & Pastrami

Some recent home cooking exploits. I had friends over to watch some football and figured I'd fry some chicken. My go-to for fried chicken has been Thomas Keller's recipe from his Ad Hoc restaurant/book. The kicker here is the brine. The chicken sits in a salty/lemon-herbal brine overnight before a buttermilk bath and fry, which creates a fried chicken that is super juicy, salty and full of flavor. A winner every time.
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I've been a fan for a while now of drinking sparkling wine with fried food. With the fried chicken we popped this Petillant-Naturel from one of my favorite natural winemakers from France, Thierry Puzelat. Pet-Nats have gained in popular in recent years; they resemble Champagne, but with natural carbonation that is less assertive. There is a touch of residual sugar that actually matches up nicely with the fired chicken.

I also got the itch to make homemade pastrami this weekend. Pastrami seems to be back on the radar for folks around ATL in the past year with the success of The General Muir. I mean, look at that General Muir goodness above. 
Trying to replicate that deliciousness, I followed the recipe in Michael Ruhlman's book, Charcuterie, a book that's been my primary reference for curing, smoking, and all things meat the past few years. The pastrami process begins with a 48 hour brine with spice mixture including coriander, allspice, bay leaves, and mustard seed.
After 48 hours in the brine, the brisket is rubbed with a mixture of toasted and cracked coriander seeds and black peppercorns.
Next is the smoking stage. I smoked my brisket on the Big Green Egg at 200 degrees for two hours before finishing in the oven  at 250 degrees for two additional hours.
The finished product. Looks more like traditional smoked brisket than it does pastrami. That being said, it was tasty as hell and was very pastrami-like in taste. I think I need to tweak the amount of curing salt I used, and perhaps cut differently next time to get more of the traditional pastrami look and texture. I was pretty happy with this first effort; this stuff was great on rye bread with a slather of mustard and pickled onions.

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