Fried Chicken and Biscuits with Sriracha Mayo, Baked Mac and Cheese, and Collard Greens
Today was Zach’s oldest brother Roger’s birthday, and we invited him and Zach’s younger brother Will over for dinner to celebrate. Zach went all out, as he usually does when it’s a celebratory meal for someone special. Roger got the Southern treatment with moist fried chicken that had an incredible crunchy crust, buttery biscuits with a zingy sauce, heavenly mac and cheese, and savory collard greens.
• For the fried chicken brine process:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 cups of water
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of salt
1/2 of one lemon
1/2 of one white onion
5 garlic cloves
1 tbs. of ground cayenne pepper
2 bay leafs
Bring all brine ingredients (except the chicken) to a boil, then let cool completely. Soak chicken breasts in brine for 12 hours.
1 gallon of canola or peanut oil (Chef Zach used peanut oil)
4 brined chicken breasts
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups of buttermilk
1 tbs. of salt
2 tsp. of ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. of garlic powder
Preheat oil in a deep fryer at 340 degrees F. Combine flour, salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder and mix thoroughly. Put buttermilk in a shallow bowl.
Drain the brined chicken. Dredge the breasts in flour, shake off excess, dip in buttermilk, drip off excess, and dredge once more in flour. Gently place in the deep fryer for 8 minutes for breasts about 1″ thick. When taken out of the deep fryer, place on a towel or paper towel to allow excess oil to drip off.
• For the baked mac and cheese:
1 lb. of pasta, your choice but not long noodles like spaghetti or linguini; Chef Zach used cavatappi
2 1/2 cups of whole milk
8 oz. of shredded medium cheddar cheese
8 oz. of shredded muenster cheese
8 oz. of shredded smoked Gouda cheese
4 oz. of shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
5 tbs. of all-purpose flour
5 tbs. of salted butter
1 1/2 tsp. of onion powder
1/2 tsp. of ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. of dried mustard
1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Mix all the shredded cheeses in a large bowl or a platter and set aside. Boil a large pot of lightly salted water.
Melt butter in a medium size saucepan on medium heat. Little by little, whisk in the flour until smooth and slightly bubbly; cook until lightly golden brown, stirring constantly. Pouring a thin stream, whisk in the milk and cream.
Stir in the onion powder, cayenne pepper, mustard, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes until reaching nappe (the point when the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon). Stir frequently.
Remove from heat and whisk in about 2 cups of the shredded cheese until smooth.
Once the water is boiling in the large pot, add the pasta and cook so that it’s a little tougher than al dente; the kind that Chef Zach got said to cook for 12 minutes, so he did for 10 minutes. Drain, then return to the large pot. Stir in the cheese sauce until all pasta is coated.
Pour half of the pasta mixture into the sprayed baking dish. Layer a generous amount of the shredded cheese, then cover with the rest of the pasta mixture and sprinkle on the last of the cheese.
Shake about 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs over the top.
Bake for 35 minutes until the panko crumbs are slightly browned and the cheese is bubbly. Cool a bit before serving and don’t take a premature bite, or else molten cheese sauce will burn holes in your mouth.
• For the collard greens:
2 bunches of collard greens
2 quarts of low-sodium chicken stock
1 quart of water
1/2 lb. of smoked ham hock
5 crushed garlic cloves
1 tbs. of sriracha sauce
1 tsp. of crushed black pepper
In a large pot over high heat. bring chicken stock and water to a boil with the ham hock, garlic, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 45 minutes.
Thoroughly wash the collard greens and strip the leafs from the stalks.
Stack the stripped leafs about 8 or so at a time, roll up, and slice into 1/2″ to 1″ widths. Put sliced greens in the stock pot and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When ready to serve, spoon out with a slotted spoon.
• For the biscuits:
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
14 tbs. of chilled butter cut up in small chunks
5 tsp. of baking powder
2 tsp. of coarse salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line or butter the bottom of a baking sheet. Thoroughly whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
With a fork or two table knives, mash the butter and flour mixture until it has a coarse meal appearance.
Slowly add milk while stirring with a fork to reach desired consistency. For softer biscuits, use more milk and drop 2 tbs. of dough onto the lined baking sheet. For firmer biscuits, do what Chef Zach did:
Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently knead only enough to bring the dough together. Roll the dough to about 1″ thick.
Using a biscuit cutter, a sturdy glass, a cookie cutter, or even just a knife, cut however many biscuits you like. Chef Zach admits that he was being wasteful – he could have made more biscuits, but he wanted 4 large ones. The scraps can easily be turned into a treat with melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon to coat and bake for 18 minutes at 450 degrees F.
Place the biscuits on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.
• For the sriracha mayonnaise:
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 tbs. of sriracha sauce
Stir until evenly blended.