As good as my favourite spirit is to drink, it does a doozy in the kitchen as well!
Calgarian and aspiring home food genius Angelo T is no stranger to booze in his culinary concoctions. There’s always a new idea brewing in this household cook’s creative juices. When I heard about his Bourbanize everything: Korean double fried chicken with bacon, chive and cheddar cheese cornbread and maple bourbon soy syrup, I knew we couldn’t keep the lid on this one.
Set your tastebuds to salivate and read on for this edible stroke of bourbon genius!
Bourbanize Everything: Korean Double Fried Chicken with Bacon, Chive and Cheddar Cheese Cornbread and Maple Bourbon Soy Syrup
By Angelo Tembreza
If the whiskey game was like a 90’s rap game, I’d be throwing up Westside signs for bourbon and getting into fist fights over which side is the best side.
There isn’t enough room in this blog post to cram in how awesome Bourbon is. But that’s ok, because there’s more than enough room in this post for three recipes with two ways to use bourbon.
Korean Double-Fried Chicken
When it comes to frying, the king of the fried chicken methods may just go the Koreans for figuring that one round of frying wasn’t enough to achieve crispiness and moist succulent meat. In fact, letting the drumsticks rest and then frying it a SECOND time made everybody’s fried chicken eating lives much better.
Now although the following take on Korean Double Fried Chicken seems high maintenance, I can say that it’s highly rewarding. When you’ve experience your fair shares of stale, soggy, and questionably pink fried chicken, the effort is justified. I know, this may not be the perfect fried chicken, but rather an idea of an amazing fried chicken that’s been upgraded with bourbon.
Step 1: Bourbon braise your chicken
For this recipe, we’re working with drumsticks. Strictly drumsticks. I’m sure thighs and wings could do and could yield different results, but that’s just another great excuse to try this recipe out more than once!
Per 16 ounces or 1 pound of Chicken
¼ cup of bourbon
¼ cup packed brown sugar (or maple syrup if you’re extra fancy in the pockets maple syrup)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon star anise seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
4 cups of just-boiled hot water
In a large container, dissolve the sugar and salt in hot water. With a mortar and pestle, roughly grind the peppercorns, star anise, and coriander seeds. Add the mixture with the bayleaf into the water. Cool the mixture to room temperature before adding the chicken. Refrigerate between 12-24 hours.
Step 2: Batter and double fry your chicken
¾ cup of flour
½ cup of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
¼ cup of bourbon
¾ cup of water (or light pilsner for extra bubbles)
5 cups of vegetable shortening (if frying in larger batches, exchange 1 cup for grapeseed oil)
Preheat the oil to 350.
Take the chicken out from the brine and air dry it for over an hour. If the chicken is still wet or moist, dust a little bit of cornstarch on the chicken.
Pour the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into bowl and mix together.
Pour in the bourbon and water. Whisk briefly, but leave some lumps and don’t overmix.
Dip the chicken into the batter and throw into the oil. Depending on the size of your fryer, make sure your batches aren’t too big that the chicken are too clumped in together and the temperature drastically dips. I would stay within 5 drumsticks per round. Fry the chicken for 7-8 minutes till it’s golden. To check if it’s done, stick a thermoter and the inside of the of drumstick should read at 180 F.
Let the chicken sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Make sure the oil is at 350 F
Fry the chicken a second time for 6-7 minutes. Take out lightly season with salt.
Step 3: Korean season-ize your chicken
1 tablespoon of minced garlic (about 5-6 cloves)
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
5 tablespoons of gojujang
1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or honey if you want to play it safe)
In a bowl, mix ingredients thoroughly.
Throw the fried chicken in and coat generously.
The chicken itself would have been perfect over a bowl of rice, or fried rice, or a fried bowl of rice (pending test kitchen project). But after having Calgary’s Anju Restaurant’s Korean double fried chicken and having it served with a side of chive cornbread with a maple soy glaze, I felt inclined to accompany these spicy drumsticks with cornbread and sauce it maple-bourbon style.
If anyone has seen The Mind of a Chef, Sean Brock has an amazing recipe for cornbread cast iron skillet. I used his recipe and added a handful of chopped chives and ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese as well as slight variations on ingredients, within reason that I don’t have direct access to the ingredients suggested because well, Canada and the Southern US have a long distance between them.
Chive, Cheese and Bacon Skillet Cornbread
(makes 9-10 servings)
6 ounces bacon, sliced into cubes
2 cups cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher (or sea) salt
½ cup of old cheddar cheese
¼ cup dried chives (about 1/3 if using fresh)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups whole milk buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Heat a cast-iron skillet (around 9-inch if possible) on medium heat
Cook bacon in the skillet, tossing frequently to render fat. After 4-5 minutes when the pieces are crisp, set aside on a paper towel to drain. Reserve the fat.
Put the bacon in a skillet large enough to hold it in one layer and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t burn, until the fat is rendered and the bits of bacon are crispy, 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove the bits of bacon to a paper towel to drain. Reserve the fat, at least 5 tablespoons bacon fats are needed for this recipe. Let the fat settle to room temperature.
Mix bacon bits, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl.
With 4 tablespoon of fat, mix into buttermilk and egg. Combine with the dry ingredients as well as the cheddar cheese and chives. Don’t over mix.
Reheat the skillet on the stove on high heat. Once hot, add one tablespoon of bacon fat and coat the whole skilled. Pour in the batter. If it sizzles, you must dance.
Toss into the hot oven for 20 minutes, but at the 15 minute mark poke a toothpick (or butterknife) in the middle and if it comes out clean, it’s ready.
To top and bind the chicken and the cornbread together I present, the bourbon maple soy syrup.
Bourbon Maple Soy Syrup
¼ maple syrup
¼ brown sugar
3 tablespoons of soy sauce (add more to taste)
Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Serve in a bowl beside the cornbread.
The cornbread, the chicken and the glaze make for an unquestionably perfect combo. The airy bread lends to the density and moisture of the meat while the sauces (my god the sauces!) are bursting with taste. Calorie-wise…well I never said this was a healthy recipe, did I?
A few things to note: when calling to use types of bourbon, one can always play around with different makes each either favouring the sweeter or spicier side. The first time I made this recipe, I used Makers Mark and the second time I used Buffalo trace. Also when looking for gojujang, the first place to start is your nearest Asian supermarket, but I’ve seen it carried in the Asian International isles as well.