09 April 2011

Fried Chicken & Champagne

I would have picked up Fried Chicken & Champagne no mater what. Why? Well of course you should know that two of my favorite things are fried chicken and champagne. To me they are about as mutually inclusive as food can be. Though it is not everyone’s idea of the perfect pairing so, clearly, Lisa Dupar is a kindred spirit.

Dupar runs the Pomegranate Bistro in Redmond, Washington. Fortunately for me, she didn’t use the subtitle, A Romp Through the Kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro as the actual title, as I might not have been so eager to pick it up. (OK, I probably would have picked it up for the cover alone and wondered what fried chicken had to do with pomegranates, but I digress…)

Where does one begin with this book? First, there are really great recipes. There is a great blend of the familiar with the more adventurous. The photographs by Kathryn Barnard capture the essence of Dupar’s cooking and much more. The cookbook captures the essences of what cooking is all about, feeding the people around us that we love. While Dupar is a large-scale caterer, her cookbook is not sterile. In fact, opening the cookbook is like being invited into Dupar’s life, it is indeed a romp through her kitchen. The pages feature colleagues and suppliers, friends and family, modern dishes, handwritten notes and food splattered family recipes.

Lisa Dupar did this book herself (with a team of creative individuals) so her personality comes dripping through. This book was not published by a large company that has a “cookbook” formula or editor that beats all the quirkiness out of the final product. (For some of our favorite personal cook/publishers check out Zac Brown’s Southern Ground or Canal House Cooking posts.) Since the production costs are always higher on an individual who does their own publishing, the book is a bit more expensive than most, but don’t be surprised if it isn’t snapped up by some large publisher for a paperback edition.

We would be remiss if we did not offer up Lisa’s fried chicken. So here it is.

Lisa’s Southern Fried Chicken

1 whole fryer chicken, cut into 8 or 10 pieces
Salt and pepper
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
Flour, for dredging
2 to 3 sleeves of saltine crackers, crushed by hand for coarse crumbs
Peanut oil, for frying

Season chicken pieces well with salt and pepper. Ina bowl combine the butter milk and eggs until well incorporated. Dust each chicken piece in flour, then dip into the buttermilk-egg mixture. Press the chicken into the saltine crumbs. Set aside before frying.

Fill a large skillet 1 inch deep with peanut oil. Heat to 350 (use a candy thermometer to test). The purpose of the oil is to brown the saltines: the chicken will finish in the oven. Fry the chicken pieces until golden brown – this will happen quickly. Remove the chicken from the g hot oil and drain. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (to avoid overcooking the smaller chicken pieces while the breasts are cooking, remove the smaller pieces first, leaving the breasts for last.)

We are not alone in our praise for Fried Chicken & Champagne, it was recently nominated by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in both the best American and First Book categories.

And in other news… Lisa Dupar’s Fried Chicken & Champagne is now a blog!

How fun is that. Buy Fried Chicken & Champagne now, so that when everyone else is talking about it you can say (haughtily)… “I’ve had that book forever!”

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