Thursday, August 7, 2014


Barnyard Fried Chicken

Spicy Cornbread
I don't fry or bake very much, either in the sun or in the kitchen.  But after a visit to Red Rooster in Harlem, I was tempted to make Chef Marcus Samuelsson's Fried Yardbird--chicken in the slang of old Harlem.  Huge portions of legs and thighs were served with mace gravy and bread and butter pickles.  The thick crust and tender chicken inside was superb.  I wanted to make this. Or "try" to.

Red Rooster's Fried Yardbird

Since Chef Samuelsson was featured on the TODAY Show and made the Fried Yardbird earlier that week, I pulled the recipe from the website and scaled it down and adapted it to create my own Fried Yardbird that I call Barnyard Chicken.  I used only chicken drumsticks.

According to the recipe, I marinated drumsticks in the typical buttermilk that virtually all fried chicken recipes call for, along with some coconut milk and a mixture of spices, which Chef Samuelsson calls a Chicken Shake.  For the dredging mixture, I added some Bourbon Smoked Pepper and used canola oil for frying.  

Although I have an electric deep fryer, I opted to use my Dutch oven and my Candy/Deep Fry thermometer.  It took a while and half-way through I was concerned about the chicken not getting brown enough, but in the last 4-5 minutes, it started to turn golden.  And then I drained the drumsticks on a wire rack. I read that draining on paper towels continues to steam the chicken more while a wire rack allows air to circulate around it.  It worked.  That was frying.

And then there's baking...the cornbread.  Although I didn't order the cornbread at Red Rooster, it was one of the featured items listed on Red Rooster's window.  Three of the others were the Fried (Yardbird) Chicken; Shrimp and Grits, which I also had that day and is on "my list" to make; and Bourbon, which I also had that day.  I found the recipe for Red Rooster's cornbread and gave it a try with some slight adaptations.  I used smoked paprika and ground cumin as a substitute for the aleppo flakes in the original recipe.  And it turned out to be a fresh and spicy home-made cornbread that went well with the Barnyard Chicken that I served alongside baked sweet potatoes and garlic spinach.  Since it was a rainy Saturday in the middle of the summer, it was a good time to cook, have some bourbon, and listen to Frank Sinatra.  I know.  Frank is for cooking Italian food--not Soul food.  But Frank was a gentleman and definitely had a lot of soul.

In the end, I got accolades for my attempt at making soul food.  I was told that it was like a visit to Harlem without the traffic. 

For Chicken Shake Spice Mix
Ingredients for Chicken Shake
1/8 Tablespoon ground Garlic
1/2 Tablespoon ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 Tablespoon ground White Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Celery Salt
1 Tablespoon Berbere*
1/8 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

Mix all ingredients together and store in a container. This scaled-down recipe makes about 1/2 cup of Chicken Shake Spice.

Chicken Shake Spice Mix

*Berbere is a spice mixture that is a key ingredient in Ethopian cuisines.  Berbere ingredients include chili peppers, garlic, ginger, dried basil, korarima (Ethopian cardamom), rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek.

For Marinade
3 cups Buttermilk
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
2 Tablespoons minced Garlic
1 Tablespoon Chicken Shake
6 Chicken Drumsticks

Mix buttermilk with coconut milk, garlic and the Chicken Shake Spice Mix.  Add drumsticks to mixture and marinade in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight.

For Dredging and Frying
3/4 cup AP Flour
2 Tablespoons Semolina Flour
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1 teaspoon Bourbon Smoked Pepper
1 Tablespoon Chicken Shake
2.5 quarts Canola Oil

Mix the flours, cornstarch and pepper to create a breading.
Remove chicken from the fridge and drip off excess marinade.
Roll chicken in the dredging mix and shake to remove excess.
Fill a deep pot with oil and bring to 325 F.

Chicken Ready to Fry
Carefully drop the chicken drumsticks into the pot and fry for about 20-25 minutes, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
Remove chicken from oil and let drain on wire racks.

Not exactly Red Rooster, but...


1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream, buttermilk, and olive oil.
Combine the two mixtures and stir until a smooth consistency.

Cornbread Mixtures

Coat a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with olive oil.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges are golden brown.

No comments: