Troppo fried chicken burger


In Australia when we add pineapple to a dish we are automatically granted permission to rename name the dish with tropical as the prefix. For example; a pork chop that has a pineapple ring added to it may now be a tropical pork chop, a pineapple sorbet is now tropical sorbet and fast food joints are champing at the bit for their yearly tropical chicken box or tropical burger special.

If you had come from an upper middle class 80s Australian upbringing you may have also used tropical in post-title context eg. Fried chicken tropicale or something else equally as 80sesque.

Now, because we are Australians we can also be excused for abbreviating the word tropical to troppo as, well, that’s just what we do. We abbreviate the heck out of whatever the heck we want and we don’t even apologise about it.

Friendly tip #42. Season your chips* with a little of your favourite chicken rub too


TROPPO FRIED CHICKEN BURGER

(Serves 4)

4 burger buns
2 x 250 g (9 oz) chicken breasts or 4 x 120 g (4 ¼ oz) chicken thigh fillets, breasts sliced along the length into 2 thinner fillets, thighs left whole
2 eggs, beaten
150 g (5 ½ oz) potato flour
2 tbls your favourite chicken rub, plus a little extra to season
Oil to deep fry
4 slices smoked bacon, grilled
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 slices pineapple, fresh if you can, core removed and then grilled until slightly caramelized
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Mayonnaise

Marinate the chicken in the rub for an hour or two.
Roll the chicken through the egg mix and then the potato flour.
Give the chicken a little tap to remove excess flour.
Heat your oil in your deep fryer to 160°C (325°F).
Now fry the chicken for 4—5 minutes, until cooked.
Season the chicken with extra chicken rub and a little salt.
Need instructions about how to layer this bad boy? Let’s start with mayonnaise on the top followed by lettuce. Now from the bottom we go bun, chicken, cheese, bacon and then pineapple.

*burgers are pretty much always accompanied with chips (fries) and a tasty beverage (beverage).

Girls vs Boys Southern Smokehouse Cook-off

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A man, a coffee and a smoker

It was to be another cook-off at foodisthebestshitever HQ. The teams were girls versus boys; the girl’s team comprising of my wife Jennee and her sister Liz (who can get an extra special mention right now because she flew in from the other side of the country especially for the occasion), while the boys team was made up of myself, yer ol’ uncle Grazza, and Jennee’s brother, Queenie. The theme was “Southern American Smokehouse” or something thereabouts. The esky was full of booze. The table was set. The competitors were ready. The Girls v Boys Foodisthebestshitever Cook-off 2016 was about to begin…

*The people in the story may be fictional, but the events are real.

The boys

We (the boys) felt there was a lot of smack talking from the girls. Like, a lot of smack talking. The girls were being particularly good at smack talking. In fact, I was walking down the street in a local town when I was approached by a young man who informed me that he had heard a rumor my man Queenie was very slightly hung. Now, Queenie may not be the manliest of guys names but I know for a fact that this brother is packing the equipment needed for the job. Well, I’ve heard he’s packing… don’t look at me like I’ve been sussing out my brother’s package. Holy shit you guys know how to contort a story… much like the women folk around these parts… great segue. That bloody smack talk.

A weaker boys team may have crumbled, but our resolve would not waver. We cleared our minds and our pipes, centered our chi and got the eff on with the job.

Our little tree motif was whittled by Queenie, made from 100% repurposed wood that was otherwise just laying around, taking up space and producing air and shit.

The rocks displayed our organic approach to our cooking and our lives, and the ebb and flow of the world we live in.

The plates were also repurposed old plates, which were recently introduced to their new life as, well, plates.

That was our story and we were sticking to it.

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Feel the emotion

Our Ode to the South was based on nothing more than a child hood obsession with KFC and an adult (or maybe more correctly termed; a 30-40 year old) obsession with smoked meat… and fried chicken… and an old Elvis 7inch. Still, it was our Ode to the South none-the-less, and it went a little something like this;

• Pulled pork finger, cheesy jalapeño crust, pickles, kimchi mayo
• Smoked rib, Big Red Rub, mustard sauce
• Tater tots injected with white trash heroin AKA cheese sauce
• Beer battered onion rings, ranch dressing
• Fried and then smoked and then fried again chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese sauce
• Smoked jalapeno popper
• Smoked brisket burger, crumbed (breaded) milk bun, slaw, barbecue sauce

The girls

The girls relied heavily on smack talk in an attempt to throw the boys from their game. But they did eventually bring some tasty and creatively produced treats to the table, ensuring a close competition.

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That layered salad was pretty special

The girls based their plate on a love of the hush puppy and 1980s layered salads. Happily re-jigged to fit with-in the guidelines of the “Smokehouse” brief, their entry went almost exactly like this;

• Layered salad with crumbled corn bread, smoked capsicum and corn, pickle and iceberg lettuce
• Smoked pork rib
• Smoked prawn, smoked Andouille sausage and smoked eggplant hush puppies

The result

Once the smoke had cleared and the gloves were un-tethered and removed to reveal calloused hands strapped crudely with ordinary house hold masking tape, the votes were tallied and the announcement of a winner was tasked to our youngest child, Obi. It was said around the table that both boys and girls had brought their A-games to the kitchen this day but unfortunately there could be only one winner – one team whose A-game was in fact a little A-er.

On this day of our lord, Sunday March 27th 2016 *drum roll please*… it would be the boys that would march away victorious from this cooking stadium, heads held high and then swiftly and smartly the victory was relegated to a distant memory, one that would not be spoken about ever again, as we were the men folk and we knew about the way of the world…

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That onion ring. Bangin’

A recipe for the WINNING BEER BATTERED ONION RINGS (enough for a few sides or maybe a Friday night on the couch watching midget wrestling)

2 med-large onions of your choosing
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon Big Red Rub or Cajun/Créole spice mix
1 bottle o’ beer… whatever you’re drinking will be fine
Oil for deep frying
Seasoning
Ranch dressing and extra Big Red Rub to serve

• Slice onions into 1cm-ish rings, popping the first 4-5 center rings out for something else you’re cooking that has onion in it
• Heat oil in a deep fryer or pot or plastic bucket if you’re not that smart. 180C is the go
• To make batter mix flours, oil and spice mix. Slowly whisk in beer until your batter is quite smooth and is thick enough to coat your finger nicely. Not too thick is the key here
• Coat the onion rings with plain flour and then dip them into the batter. Drag them out of the batter and ever-so-slightly drag them across the side of the bowl to remove excess batter
• Lower them gently into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through
• Drain on kitchen towel, season with salt and pepper and a little extra Big Red Rub, serve with ranch sauce on the side

Lester and Earl… a place to get barbecue and booze at Palm Beach

lester and earl, palm beach, the gold coast
Jennee used the interweb super highway to locate another American style barbecue joint for us to try at the Gold Coast, so indeed we did drive there to consume said smoky sustenance from the hickory tainted pits.

Looking up a Lester & Earl from the carpark out back
Looking up a Lester & Earl from the carpark out back

After what would’ve possibly been a half days journey by horse and cart, we pulled into the exit of the car park and parked our vehicle. The pulling into the exit was not because I am big and tough and don’t even give a fuck, but merely because I wasn’t wearing my glasses and don’t see the very best.

It was now time for me to get excited. Game on.

I will probably return to become great friends with that bar
I will probably return to become great friends with that bar

Now, I’ll let you in on a little moderately widely known fact about me; I get excited by the whole eating experience. Like, really excited. Like, I get excited like the new age hipster who has just found himself a solid supply of organic hand-crafted artisanal rocks to compliment his recycled wooden pallet shabby chic open plan lounge room/bathroom motif. One thing that really does not excite me though, is the new age hipster who has just found himself a solid supply of organic hand-crafted artisanal rocks to compliment his recycled wooden pallet shabby chic open plan lounge room/bathroom motif. Those people cannot be my friend. I fricking kid you not (yeah. Like top knot. Great pun, me) that shit is absolutely rife up here right now… I fear we may need to cull shortly to thin out their numbers purely in the interest of protecting the species as a whole, for soon there will not be enough hand-crafted organic chia seed, kale and tumeric loaves to support the population…

I’m probably going to get in trouble because I said I don’t like something. It’s not very nice if you say you don’t like things. It is generalized, pigeon holed, bigoted malarkey… but I did it… and you may need to prepare yourself for the scenario where I don’t actually recant my comment even one little bit…

But it could probably be said that we are not here today to discuss my uneducated social commentary, but rather to discuss the lunch we had at the comparatively new (compared to say, the beach and shining white sand that are mere meters from its doors) serving-all-things-southern-and-soulful establishment, Lester and Earl.

A bit of the menu
A bit of the menu

To start off with; great name folks. Really good. Now, moving on…
Root beer
Root beer

We were seated and quickly ordered some drinks. I ordered a root beer because I though I was a cowboy. Root beer tastes kinda funny but kinda nice to me, so I drank it all up. There was a bit of confusion with the other drinks but it was all sorted out fairly quickly which is good but… I’ve read quite a few reviews from peeps who weren’t really happy with the service here so maybe writing the orders down as they come from the mouths of the people, even if that’s just for the bigger tables, might be a better start?? Don’t get me wrong, I’m as impressed as the next guy if I can order 8 meals and it all hits the table as requested but, well, that just aint always the case… jus’ sayin’.

We ordered the ass out of what I thought to be a good cross section of what was on offer; beef short rib, pulled pork, buttermilk fried chicken, the American Classic burger, ‘slaw, collard greens and mac ‘n’ cheese.

Some of the goodies we put in our faces
Some of the goodies we put in our faces

See, that is a pretty good cross section.

When we ordered the chicken our waitress apologized and told us the wait was going to be 15 minutes. Her apology would have been better spent on something else worth apologizing about, like maybe her damn cheeriness, because I really didn’t consider that to be a wait. I was pretty sure I didn’t come to lunch at a fast food chain restaurant and I knew for a fact I have taken longer than that for my morning “movement”. Maybe the people are just in more of a hurry up here…

The food came, we ate, and we were happy.

That burger
That burger

The burger was a highlight, as was the smoked short rib and the pulled pork. Pulled pork with Carolina mustard sauce is quickly becoming one of my favourite things in the world… my family is still first though, but pulled pork could take the top spot on a really shitty day though. And I reeeeallllly loved those waffle cut potato things, they made me feel like a child and I want to put them on my own restaurant menu. Fucking tasty, not-every-day-food, fried goodness. Oh, and I almost forgot about the smoked jalapeño and bacon poppers – soooo damn good, but if they were jalapeños the chef must’ve used some kind of spice removal kit on them because, much like a snake playing a soccer match, they didn’t have any kick at all. But, they were just so effing tasty I had to let it slide. The ‘slaw was good with a little Asian influence, and the mac ‘n’ cheese was indeed cheesy and maccy ☺
Mac'n'cheese
The pickles and collard greens were possibly the only thing I didn’t enjoy the heck out of. The pickle was a wedge of onion. Now some things just go together and I NEED some pickles with my barbecue, full stop … it’s kinda like Sunny without Cher, gypsies with out trinkets or a certain Victorian football club without a drug scandal. And the greens? Well they were a little too beef stocky for me. I like them to be a little more chicken stocky and bacon or smoked sausage smoky.
They have refresher towels so you can clean your beard and/or face afterwards. This made me very happy and the rest of the family very less embarrassed
They have refresher towels so you can clean your beard and/or face afterwards. This made me very happy and the rest of the family very less embarrassed

It was still a pretty damn well arranged little symphony that’s fo’ sho.

All in all a damn good lunch in a nice spot over looking the Pacific Ocean and the beaches that stop said ocean from enveloping the Gold Coast. Next time I will try a little later in the arvo so I can get stuck into the bottles of stuff they have at the bar!

Those not-quite-jalepeno-but-still-really-tasty-poppers that I almost forgot about
Those not-quite-jalepeno-but-still-really-tasty-poppers that I almost forgot about

Lester and Earl1097 Goal Coast Highway, Palm Beach

It Was Going To Be Karaage Chicken But Ended Up Being Fried Chicken With Big Red Rub

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This was one of those meals that morphed a little mid prep. It didn’t do a Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde, or an angered Bruce Banner changing into that big green Gold Coast gym junkie, but it did indeed change it’s original guise, albeit ever so slightly.

This day I declared mid shift that I had a hankering for some fried chicken and when it came time to prepare the family meal for the evening, fried chicken would indeed be what I would concoct and in turn consume. I cut chicken thigh like the schoolyard taunts would cut the squeamish kid with pale skin, glasses and allergies… I pulled the potato flour from it’s home on “the flour shelf”… I got that chicken marinating in soy sauce and then I set about chopping some ginger and garlic to join it, and then I stopped. I reversed that old pick-up truck back to the fork in the road, crunched the gear box back into first and then headed down the other track, towards the old Wilson farm. Mr Wilson was in the back paddock with his collection of blue ribbon winning root vegetables when I pulled up. For an older gentleman he was surprisingly nimble… I wanted to look away but instead I looked further… it was a vision that will haunt me for ever, a sight that cannot be unseen… dear good lord.

This is where I stopped making karaage chicken and apparently my story stopped making sense.

I cracked an egg into the soy coated chicken to really give the flour something to stick to, I mixed some patented Big Red Rub in with the potato flour, dusted the hell out of the chicken pieces and then fried them up.

Real good, proper good.

The chicken was consumed with the finest crinkle cut potato chips from the freezer section of the local used-to-be-food-market, a what-we-had-in-the-fridge-salad, home made mayonnaise and hot sauce.

The kids were really, really happy with this and it was cheap and relatively easy to make (even for a person of your skill set…) so I guess you should just go and make it… do it for the kids.

#easytastygoodmidweekdinnersforthekids

I’m here to help ☺

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To this... Yeah, really creative with the captions eh
To this… Yeah, really creative with the captions eh

REALLY GOOD FRIED CHICKEN (serves 4)

1-1.2kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into nugget sized pieces
A splash of soy
2 eggs
1.5 cups potato flour (starch)
1/3 cup Big Red Rub, or another Southern/Cajun/Creole/KFC type spice mix of your liking
Oil for deep frying
Seasoning
Home made mayo, hot sauce, fridge salad and chips, or the late edition of burger stuff, to serve

• Get your self a tasty alcoholic beverage of your choosing and relax into this one, you seriously have plenty of time
• Make some mayonnaise, get some oven chips going and make a little salad
• Combine potato flour and spice mix in a bowl big enough to fit the chicken
• Heat oil in your deep fryer or in a pot over med-high heat on the stovetop. If you’re going to do the stovetop method for the love of god keep an eye on it… I don’t want you burning down your house or tent or cardboard box and adjoining dumpster or whatever the hell it is you live in… I couldn’t handle the disappointment of having that blamed on me
• Whisk eggs, soy and a splash of water together in another bowl big enough to fit the chicken
• Get the chicken into the eggwash and then one piece at a time coat it in the seasoned flour
• Once all the chicken is coated divide it into two batches. Fry each batch for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned, and then set aside to drain on a rack or absorbent paper
• Fry chicken for a second time until golden brown and fully cooked through – probs another 2-3 minutes. Drain on a rack or absorbent paper, season and serve with the chips that should be ready by now and the other stuff
• I made this fried chicken again before I had the chance to post this and put it in between the buns like a business man in a Thai brothel. This chicken is REALLY good in a burger. I don’t use caps lock very often so you gotta know I’m serious. Try it… you know you want to…

Cheeky fried chicken for the second time in a week
Cheeky fried chicken for the second time in a week

...and the burger that I made with it. Nom nom nom
…and the burger that I made with it. Nom nom nom