Cooking For Real with Sunny
Sunny tells us that her thoughts of different places are based on her favorite local foods.
That’s funny. I had never heard of Roscoe’s until my LA based daughter gave my son a Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles tee-shirt. I thought it sounded like an absolutely wonderful combination, although I didn’t really take it seriously at first.
Sunny says she’s going to make her own version of barbecued chicken and lemon waffles. I guess that does sound strange, but I suppose the waffles take the place of potatoes...although it still seems like a really naughty thing to do.
Sunny starts by brining the chicken overnight (which she’s already done) in a salt and sugar brine with fresh lemon juice added. She says to do it for at least a few hours.
Sunny loved Roscoe’s and went any time she had the chance. She whips up her own house rub of light brown sugar, paprika, dried ground (why ground?) thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne powder and ground black pepper and salt. She zests in some lemon to carry along the flavors from the waffles. I like Sunny, she’s so easy and breezy.
Sunny says fried chicken is closer to Roscoe’s (cider fried) chicken, but today she’s roasting it.
Part of the rub is going to go underneath the skin. That IS an excellent idea. Sunny mixes half of the rub really well with unsalted butter. She places the chicken (that’s a BIG one) on a rack on a roasting pan and loosens the breast skin with her hands. She rubs the spiced butter on the breast and beyond underneath the skin.
Sometimes I use a wooden spoon (upside down) to loosen the skin. It goes beyond where my hand can reach. I KNOW the butter would be good here, but you could also mix that rub with a touch of olive oil and you’d save yourself a few (thousand) calories.
Next Sunny massages the rest of her rub all over the outside of the patted dry chicken. Is she going to turn it over? Nope. I think I would. She DOES put the extra rub inside the bird. She puts it in a 350°F oven for an hour and 15 minutes. It’ll get turned up later.
For the waffles, she sieves 4 cups flour into a bowl with 1 tablespoon baking powder and a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a little bit of salt. Sunny says she loves making a mess especially when it turns into a meal.
Separately she mixes 3 ½ cups of milk with ½ cup oil. Sunny says that canola oil, among others, is okay. NO, IT’S NOT!!! * She adds lemon extract and lemon zest.
Sunny separates 6 eggs right over the same bowl. She’s brave. I learned a long time, I’m not infallible and six eggs will often result in at least one broken yolk. Although, actually, this isn’t exactly a meringue, so who cares? She also cracks her eggs on the counter, which is one of my least favorite kitchen habits, but happily Sunny cleans up the egg ookiness IMMEDIATELY.
While we’re on the subject of eggs…If you have a lot of egg separating in your future (and I really hope you do, because there’s nothing I love more than meringues) there are a few things to remember to make your life easier. You want to separate the eggs when they’re cold, but beat the whites when they’re at room temperature. Believe me when I tell you that you will have a MUCH easier time separating COLD eggs.
One other thing – FRESH egg whites beat up better (AND separate easier) than older ones. Of course, you can use any egg, as long as the expiration date hasn’t been passed. (Oh my, NOW I’m really going on SUCH a long-winded detour, please may we talk about expiration dates another time? I promise we will.) BUT if you have a 10 or 12 egg white meringue to be made, try to use up your older eggs a few days before and get a new batch in the house. (Of course, always have more eggs available than the number you need, in case of accidents.)
Back to Sunny’s waffles, she pours the wet ingredients into a well in the center and mixes it with a spatula. She likes having the waffles leftover too and uses them to make a sandwich. That’s different…to me.
Sunny is beating her egg whites by hand!!!! She really is hardy. Did she add sugar? Yup, 2 tablespoons. She mentions that
Hold it! Egg white alert!
I ALWAYS beat in a quarter of the egg whites first to lighten the mixture. I don’t see any reason NOT to do that here. Take a quarter of your whites and beat them in well and then fold in the rest.
Oh, sorry, one more thing about beating whites by hand. That is an awesome way to do it. But if I were going to exert that much arm power, I would definitely not use a GLASS bowl, where the whites kind of fall back on themselves. I would excavate my copper bowl, or failing that, use a stainless one. I’m thinking Sunny used a glass bowl so we could see what was happening, which I do appreciate, but she did make it harder for herself.
Sunny wants to add nuts to the waffles. But she doesn’t add them to the batter, where I guess they would just get lost. She sprinkles them on top AFTER she’s put the batter in the waffle maker. THAT is a fantastic idea. That could also apply to pancakes. Gosh, it’s easy to make me happy.
Sunny sprays a preheated waffle iron with Pam. I’m glad she did that, they often say not to, but really how else can you ensure the waffle will come out? Brushing with oil just doesn’t do it.
Sunny ladles a few spoonfuls of batter into the center of the waffle iron. She says she doesn’t mind if the batter comes out the sides, but she “doesn’t like a square that doesn’t have a corner”.
It's funny what gets different people going. For me, my bête noire is someone putting a tasting spoon BACK in whatever is being tasted. I always keep an eagle eye out and I’ll pounce if I see a used spoon getting close.
Sunny takes out her gorgeous chicken. It’s really beautifully browned. She bastes it with the pan juices. The skin has “extra crazy flavor” She turns it up to 450°F and cooks it for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is crispy and crunchy and then she is “closer to heaven”.
Sunny says she’s been gardening a lot and growing lots of greens. She removes 4 strips of bacon from a pack and cuts them into pieces with scissors.
(OY, I hate to say this, but Melissa’s trick of keeping the bacon in the freezer and then just cutting off what she needs, would be a good idea here. It does destroy the bacon if you need long strips, but it’s a good way to keep it longer.)
Sunny adds the bacon to a sauté pan with chopped onions for her collard greens. She thoroughly washes the greens. If you’re stewing them for a long time, Sunny says to leave the ribs on. But if you’re sautéing them quickly, then trim them off.
Sunny doesn’t mention this, but if you’re not a confirmed collard green eater, you may want to blanch them first. Just cook them in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and chop them. Then add them to the sauté pan.
Sunny pulls off the ribs from the greens, rolls up the leaves and chops them into strips. They go into the sauté pan and get cooked for 2 minutes or until they wilt. She adds chopped sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.
Sunny has removed the breast off the chicken (after letting it rest for 10 minutes) and cuts it widthwise. (Ina does it like that too). Her waffles look really good and there’s a huge stack of them.
She plates the chicken with 2 waffles and a pile of collard greens. She pours syrup on top of the chicken as well as the waffles. (I was wondering if you were allowed to do that.) I guess the waffles could be thought of as kind of like popovers or Yorkshire pudding. Sunny says she loves the collard greens with bacon as a balance for the chicken and waffles. Wow, that sounds so fun to me - chicken and waffles - like a party on a plate.
* A lot of the anti-canola oil websites do look a little homespun, but Dr. Andrew Weil himself agrees that many canola oils sold are worrisome. That's because of the way in which they are produced with chemical solvents, plus the crops of the rape plant are often laden with pesticides. There is simply no reason to use canola oil. He likes extra virgin olive oil for just about everything, so do I. And there is sunflower or safflower oil if you need a flavorless one for cooking or baking. (Dr. Weil recommends using the high oleic versions of these oils. High oleic sunflower oil has at least 82% oleic acid.)