The Barnes & Noble cookbook section just got a whole lot raunchier, a phrase I don’t think many have said or that I, perhaps, should even think, but nonetheless it is my thought exactly. This past week, a very colorful cookbook was dropped off on my desk at work, and it has given me the opportunity to channel my inner bro when it comes to cooking. The Culinary Bro-Down by Josh Scherer, a former Isla Vista resident, no less reminds me that the food scene is changing and becoming much more accepting of pounds of bacon and Natural Light beer braises. This direction could, perhaps, be linked to earlier stars like “Man v. Food” and the like, which glorify these godly monstrous culinary creations made by the underbelly of restaurateurs in America for decades.
This trend isn’t something unknown to me. My dad owned a pizza parlor in my early childhood and I watched foolish men attempt to tackle a table-sized pizza and a pitcher of beer each within one go. This gluttonous behavior has long been a frat boy tradition, as the author would attest to. Lately these grotesquely delicious ideas have leaked into the refined culinary world. So then we get new and fresh combinations like “Mac ‘n’ Cheese Nachos” to hella-classy dishes like “Broccolini with Burnt Lemon Hollandaise and Pork Belly Tacos with Fish Sauce Caramel.”
Regardless of whether or not you think that tater tots belong in a cafeteria lunch menu and not on a fine dining menu, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that this is a trend that is likely here to stay if the delicious recipes in Scherer’s books are going to be the product of these bro-creations.
As a forewarning to the recipes in this cookbook, if you want a quick and easy meal, these recipes are not for the faint hearted. I was preparing my own spice rubs, making bacon infused aioli and turning my stovetop into a deep fryer. Anyway, the point is if you want to achieve big dreams you must put in the effort. I loved every second of this hour-long process, but would this be a meal I whip up before class on a packed day? Probably not.
Another thing I should mention is that I had to improvise a lot. Some of these ingredients were not readily available at an average grocery store, and the other options were simply just not worth my weekly budget to buy. This is completely acceptable as long as you pay attention to what you’re changing and understand the flavor profiles of your ingredients. Okay, so now that the logistics are out of the way, we can begin with the fun part the recipe.
Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Bacon Mayonnaise, adapted from The Culinary Bro-Down by Josh Scherer)
4 chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
4 slices of bacon
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsps hot sauce of your choice
½ head of white cabbage (I used red cabbage)
½ white onion
2 Fresno chiles (I used yellow chili peppers)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (I used white wine instead)
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
“Fuckton of canola, vegetable, or peanut oil, for frying” (I used canola)
4 cups of flour (I only used three and that was still too much)
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 egg yolks and a quarter cup of milk scrambled together)
1 cup finely ground cornmeal (or unseasoned breadcrumbs)
¼ cup Cajun seasoning (check out the bottom of the page for a recipe on making your own spice mix)
4 hamburger buns
Pickle slices (I chose bread and butter pickles to balance the heat from the seasoning and chiles)
Bonus Ingredient: Barbeque sauce
1. Your first step is to dice bacon and cook it up until it is crispy and delicious. Once it is cooked, strain the grease into a separate bowl and stick in the freezer for 5-10 minutes until it is room temperature. While that is cooling, chop up your bacon bits until they are a fine dust. Mix the bacon, mayo, hot sauce and bacon grease until it is a homogenous blend, then place it in the fridge. (Note: This sauce is enhanced greatly by mixing in about a ⅓ cup of your favorite barbeque sauce. I opt for Sweet Baby Ray’s.)
2. Shred your cabbage super thin, then slice the onions and chiles thinly as well. In a mixing bowl combine the vinegar, one teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, cabbage, onions, chiles and dill and toss until everything is mixed well. Place in the fridge to allow to meld together.
3. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat your oil until it is hot enough to sizzle flour when it drops in. With three bowls, set up your dredging station. The first one should be half of your flour mixture, the next should be your wash (buttermilk or egg wash) and the final one should be part flour part grain mixture (breadcrumbs or cornmeal) and part Cajun seasoning.
4. Take your chicken thighs, place them in a plastic bag and pound them until they are no more than a half inch thick. Season the thighs with salt, then proceed to coat them in the first flour mixture, then the wash and finally the breadcrumb bowl making sure it is fully and evenly coated.
5. Throw your chicken in the oil and fry for about six minutes until it is cooked through and the crust is a beautiful golden brown. When you remove them from the fryer, place them on paper towels to remove extra grease.
6. Toast your buns, then stack the mayo, chicken, slaw and pickles. Enjoy
I honestly have never had a better chicken sandwich. It was absolutely delicious and I was especially proud of myself, not only for successfully creating a deep fryer in my own kitchen without burning myself or the house, but also for my ability to improvise a recipe and still be satisfied with the end result. Hopefully this recipe inspires you to get creative and downright bro-tastic in the kitchen.
Cajun Seasoning Spice Mix
With a simple mortar and pestle you can create an original and fresh mix to put on just about anything: meat, poultry, even your vegetables. It adds just the right heat to any dish you desire. Simply grind the ingredients into a powder and then use at will.
2 tsps salt
2 tsps garlci powder
2 1/2 tsps paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chili poder
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1 1/4 tsp thyme
1 1/4 tsp oregeno
1/4 red pepper flakes