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Fried Chicken!

We all love Fried Chicken, right?!

I know I do. Here’s what I do to make it at home; it’s easy, tasty, and you can make loads of it for guests if you have your oven warmed up and ready to be used to hold them as they come out of the fryer. Obviously it’s all in the coating and, as usual when frying, the heat of the oil. I use a pan, but will be getting a deep fat fryer in the new year.

It’s all about the seasoned flour coating, really. I season plain flour with Garlic Salt, Black Pepper, Paprika and a little dried Oregano. This is my recipe, but you can really use whatever you like. I have a friend who substitutes Garlic salt for Lemon Salt.

Anyway, in terms of chicken you can use whatever you want. This time around I wanted pure dipping action so simply sliced breast meat into goujons. Legs, Breast, Wings, whatever you want, you do. Roll lightly in your seasoned flour, then  in beaten egg, then back into your flour. I find this double-dip method results in the coating sticking to the meat better, as you’d want.

Fry the goujons until golden, drain on paper and then pop in a hot oven for 5 minutes to drive off any residual oil. I do this with all of my deep-fried treats, and find that it results in a slightly crisper coating and  much less greasy fingers!

Serve with cold beer – of course – and I prefer Amber lagers or US Pales with my Fried Chicken; I think it needs the extra sweetness in the body. I find that too much hop aroma  just gets in the way of the food and just ends up clashing.

Keep it simple with the widely-available Meantime London Pale Ale (4.3%abv) is good; loads of toffee in the body, a grassy, fresh aroma and a sweet, smooth and restrained citric finish. It’s a sturdy, juicy Pale Ale at a good abv and great for food like this.



London Drinking

Ah, London. I really do like drinking in London. Maybe it’s because I don’t live there, so haven’t yet been beaten into submission by it. Everything still feels buzzy and new, and I always end up thinking that I should have stayed longer, because I’ve still got places I need to go.

My pre-GBBF session was pretty much based around places I know and love. I find it very hard now to get within ten minutes of King’s Cross station, and not start thinking about The Euston Tap. I still read mixed reports about it, but I can honestly say I’ve yet to encounter anything than excellent, polite service from the staff there. Quite a feat, given how busy they were at points over the weekend (running out of glasses at one point!). The first pint of the day –  a clean, crisp Camden Helles (4.8% abv) – slaked the train journey thirst in no time; crisp and first then drying into sweet/citrus notes. I could have happily stayed for another couple, but we had a specific agenda.

A quick tube ride later and we find ourselves sitting in BrewWharf; somewhere I’ve not visited before despite being in Borough a lot recently. A quick scan around the bar led to slight disappointment. Although Ivanhoe’s Pale Ale (4.3%abv) was perfectly nice – very nice, actually; Piney bitterness and biscuit body – it was the only offering from the brewery available. It’s a smart place all right, all exposed brick and pale wood, but can someone give me a reason to go back when I’m around next?

Onto The Rake next, and Kernel’s Centennial IPA (10.1abv) was truly worth taking on in spite of the heft of the abv. Orange-hued, bursting with orange-pith aroma and with a comfortingly viscous mouthfeel, it remained utterly, utterly drinkable and we whiled away another hour talking the transfer market whilst this nectar warmed our bellies. With the GBBF trade session in full swing, The Rake was a little oasis of calm in an afternoon where the temperatures were getting a little on the high side. If you’re not familiar with the place, jump on over to Rabid Barfly (link on the right) – Glyn’s the general manager.

After a bowl of Paella in Borough Market (well, part of it. It was closed, being a Tuesday), we headed over to The Market Porter to see what was on there. I love drinking in The Porter – and I’m not sure why. There’s something about it I can’t put my finger on. In terms of beer, we needn’t have looked further than Meantime’s Pacific Pale Ale (4%abv). In fact ,we didn’t – Wow – what a beer. Darker than you’d expect, with a firm, fudgy malt base, the nose just leapt out of the glass. I must add, too, that it was a pleasure to experience a Mango/Tropical Fruit sweet aroma rather than the usual ‘Grapefruitiness’ that we seem to be getting so bombarded with (more on this later). Stupidly drinkable and with a perfect, clean finish, we sank two of these each and I could have sunk two more. Stomachs rumbled.

A quick nip to Neal’s Yard Dairy over the road and some clean, slightly piney Goat’s cheese was procured, and, alongside some of my favourite Cornish Yarg and half a chewy, dense Rye loaf, we had an impromptu picnic. The beer was perfect for the cheese, and for a couple of hours, all was well with the world.

It’s moments like this – of sweet harmony – that give me the greatest pleasure whilst eating, drinking and writing about it. You think that you’ve experienced all that you can, but then something unexpected hits you and you realise that, in fact, there are most blissful moments ahead of you than you’ve probably experienced. And if that’s not reason enough to keep seeking them out, and helping others to do so, then I don’t know what is.

Burger Week on TGS – The Bacon-Cheese BagelBurger

Well –  you all know that I like doing themed weeks,and I think it’s about time the humble Burger got some love on here. Actually, I take that back –  The Burger is not humble; it’s awesome. Perfect in the way that great hand-food tends to be – a blank canvas, jack of all trades and master of them all; a moveable feast. Fast food, good food, tasty food. You can literally have your burger your way anytime you make one; all you need do is have a little imagination with the things you can change – the topping, and the bread itself. And, of course, the beer you enjoy alongside it. All are tasty little wingmen to your meaty (or not, if you’re Veggie) filling.

There are, of course, a few simple rules that I would suggest before embarking on a Burger Odyssey. As with most things, Quality is key. Good – Quality Burgers are a must, whether it be from online suppliers, Farmer’s Markets, Farm Shops, or Butchers. If making your own, I strongly suggest buying your meat close to when you are going to make them; in my opinion frozen beef mince just doesn’t form right. I didn’t make my own for this recipe (I bought mine from the Farm Shop next to the Hunter’s Inn in Pool), but if you want to make your own, my recipe is simply as follows:

Good Beef or Steak Mince, micro-fine diced Red Onion, a dash of Tomato Ketchup, a Dash of Tomato Puree, Salt, Pepper. 

I’m sure there are loads of recipes out there, however, if you don’t like the sound of that. If this is a little dry I sometimes add an Egg Yolk to bind it all; but I know some purists will scoff at that. You can add anything you want to them. Chilli, Herbs, BBQ Sauce, Mustard Powder, Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce – anything. It’s your Burger. Just don’t add breadcrumbs, for god’s sake – otherwise, you have a meatball.

We might not have the deep psychological bond that our American Cousins have. We have great ingredients over here but we tend to put all that on a pedestal – Burgers should be for everyone. ‘Gourmet‘ Burgers and terms like that turn my stomach – there’s nothing ‘Gourmet’ about good food. It’s as simple as that; Good Burgers and Bad Burgers. Let’s not patronise the little patty any further; Burgers are great and we all love them.

Two's Up

So, first up, here’s my go-to Burger: The Bacon-Cheese BagelBurger. As with all the upcoming recipes, the only way to go is with a hot (really hot) Cast-Iron Griddle Pan. Just brush the burger with a little oil, and cook  – turning once – to your liking. I like mine a little pink but I know that this turns some folk off when it comes to minced meat. Whilst this badboy is sizzling away, lay smoked, streaky bacon next to it and let them crisp up.

Lightly toast your Bagel, and set aside. Lay slices of Smoked Cheese (I use Wensleydale’s Oak Smoked, which is awesome) and melt that on top of the burger. Make your burger up and top with a couple of sliced Cornichons or Dill Pickles, and a couple of slices of Tomato. I like the creamy-sweet combo of Tomato Ketchup and Mayo with this burger.

There you have  it – the classic; the bagel makes it a little sweeter, the smoked bacon gives saltiness and richness, the smoked Wensleydale giving more deep smoke but with a little tangy hit to round things off.

To drink? Meantime’s Union is a fantastic Burger beer. An uncomplicated but classy beer, there’s masses of sweet toffee going on in the body, with a bready nose and an ever-so-slightly peppery finish. It does a wonderful job of cutting through the meat and sauce without overloading your palate with sweetness or hops. If you can’t get this; I’d suggest any sweetish Amber Ale, such as Bath Ale’s Gem, Ilkley’s Best, Brooklyn Lager, or Anchor Steam.

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