Delinquent! Delinquent I say! I know, I know. And I do love blogging but impending move means that Cookbook Trials may be on hiatus while I pack and then unpack. Yeesh. Anywho, I did do March (which stretched into April's) trials using the cookbook Fried & True I received at a launch event I attended at the supperclub under Red Rooster in Harlem. I got a mini cast iron skillet for Christmas and a wok for my birthday so I was set friends.
I managed four recipes as per the usual. Two sides and two chicken. The basis for Fried & True is as the title states, fried chicken recipes. Fifty of "the best" in the United States as found by the editor Lee Brian Schrager with Adeena Sussman of this cookbook. One of which was Charles Gabriel's fried chicken and he's not too far from where I work in Harlem.
Swiss Chard Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon (Art Smith)
Prep/Cooking Difficulty: No difficulty whatsoever. You have five ingredients (not including salt & pepper) and mix it all together. The only prep was cleaning off the swiss chard leaves and toasting the pine nuts after that it's all mixing.
Taste: It's a nice healthy mix to add to a fried protein. Swiss chard has a slightly bitter taste close to mesculun or even kale in a way and is super good for you. The crunch of the toasted pine nuts and some saltiness with the parmesan and salt/pepper was a nice mix and I ate it all in one day since I made half a serving. Good and good for you!
Yay or Nay? Yay for healthy!
[Vietnamese] Fried Chicken (Hy Vong)
Prep/Cooking Difficulty: This was another deliberately easy one, folks. Chicken stock, soy sauce, jalapenos (which I skipped), and scallions along with chicken is all you need. Fry the chicken immediately and make the sauce while the chicken fries and that is it.
Taste: Perhaps the real kick comes from the jalapenos for this recipe as I found without the chicken being flavored you rely a lot on the sauce, which is the intention, but that's none too flavorful for me. I usually make recipes with soy sauce that also have sesame seed oil, oyster sauce and other items so this being really stock, soy sauce, and in my case no peppers it didn't have as much flavor as I would have liked but is definitely a nice alternative.
Yay or Nay? I'm middle of the road on this one as it's not as good day after where as other fried chicken may hold up better.
Candied Yams (Charles Gabriel)
Prep/Cooking Difficulty: Not very. You do make this is two stages which is boiling the potatoes then cutting that up to bake and making a sauce to put on top which includes orange, cinnamon sticks, and sugar. I've made much more complicated sweet potatoes in mashed form.
Taste: The syrup is what makes this dish! Oh my goodness it IS like candy. Move over old school recipes I've done before Charles' takes the cake for me from now on.
Yay or Nay? Yay. For goodness sake yay!
Country Pan Fried Chicken (Charles Gabriel)
Prep/Cooking Difficulty: As mentioned I went with the easier of recipes and this was one of them. It must be brined overnight with salt, pepper, and garlic powder so that those flavors literally stick to the meat when you're ready to bread and fry it.
Taste: The brining makes the difference here because the garlic powder and salt/pepper stick to the meat with little else needed in the breading. When you fry it all up you taste those spices in the juicy chicken and it's all good. Reminds me of my grandma's chicken for sure.
Yay or Nay? You know what I'm gonna say don't you? If not: YAY!
So overall would I recommend Fried & True? Yes, with the caveat that it's not all easy. There are some multi-step, hardcore recipes in here and it'll take a while to get through. Plus it's a lot of fried chicken with just a couple alternates so that's a huge amount of oil. I'd say pick your recipes wisely and definitely try out the sides as they were fun to look through and consider. The sides range from Popeye's like biscuits to mac n' cheese to waffles to various slaws and grit type sides so there's a nice range.
Since summer is coming I may try for some more dessert-y cookbooks, or not.