May 2, 2017

Church Picnic Calendar 2017 - Fried Chicken, Sausage, Barbecue, Polka Music, Bingo and More (Just a little road trip out of town - most are on Sundays)

Food typically begins serving at 11:00 a.m. You can expect fried chicken, sausage, green beans, German potatoes, iced tea, bread, homemade desserts and often, picnic stew or barbecue as well.

April 29 - St. Mark Lutheran - Lake Jackson
April 29 - St. Bartholomew - Katy
April 30 - St. Mary's - Frydek
April 30 - St. Michael's - Weimar

May 7 - Queen of the Holy Rosary - Hostyn
May 14 - Christ Lutheran - Pattison
May 14 - Christ Lutheran - Loebau
May 21 - St. John's Lutheran - Deanville
May 28 - St. Joseph - Dime Box
May 28 - Sacred Heart - Halletsville
May 28 - Sts. Cyril and Methodius - Shiner
May 28 - St. Paul Lutheran - Giddings

June 4 - Sacred Hear - Flatonia
June 4 - Holy Trinity Corn Hill - Jarrell
June 11 - St. Mary's Catholic - Halletsville outskirts / St. Mary's
June 11 - St. Rose of Lima - Schulenburg
June 18 - St. John the Baptist - Ammansville
June 25 - United Church of Christ - Lyons
June 25 - Sts. Cyril and Methodius - Granger
June 25 - Sts. Peter and Paul - Plum
June 25 - Fayetteville Brethren - Fayetteville

July 2 - Sts. Cyril and Methodius - Dubina
July 4 - St. John the Baptist - St. John
June 16 - Ascension of Our Lord - Moravia
June 16 - St. James - Gonzales
July 28/29 - St. Mary of Visitation - Lockhart
July 30 - Nativity of Virgin Mary - Penelope

August 6 -Sts. Peter and Paul - Frelsburg
August 6 - St. Anthony of Padua - Palacios
August 6 - St. Joseph - Yoakum
August 13 - St. Michael's - Weimar
August 15 -Assumption of Virgin Mary - Praha
August 20 - St. Andrew - Hillje
August 20 -St. Monica - Cameron
August 27 -Sts. Cyril and Methodius - Cistern
August 27 - St. Mary - Ellinger
August 27 - Immanuel Lutheran - La Vernia
August 27 - Holy Rosary - Rosenberg

September 3 - Nativity of Virgin Mary - High Hill
September 3 - St. John the Baptist - Fayetteville
September 3 - Our Lady of Guadalupe - Cuero
September 3 - Sacred Heart - Halletsville
September 3 - Sts. Cyril and Methodius - Shiner
September 3 - St. Mary's - Plantersville
September 3 - St. Stanislaus - Chappell Hill
September 3 - Sts. Cyril and Methodius - Granger
September 3 - Immaculate Conception - Sealy
September 3 - Holy Cross - Warda
September 10 - Sts. Cyril and Methodius - Marak
September 10 - St. Mary of Assumption - Taylor
September 16-17 - St. John Nepomucene - Ennis
September 17 - St. Joseph - Moulton
September 17 - St. Wenceslaus - Holmna
September 23-24 - St. Jerome - Houston
September 24 - St. Joseph - Cyclone
September 24 - St. James - Seguin
September 24 - St. Philip the Apostle - El Campo
September 24 - Immanuel Lutheran - Killeen

October 1 - Queen of Holy Rosary - Hostyn
October 1 - Holy Rosary - Frenstat
October 1 - St. Luke's - Loire
October 1 - St. Roch - Mentz
October 1 - Sacred Heart - Crosby
October 1 - St. Ann - La Vernia
October 8 - St. Anthony - Columbus
October 8 - Holy Cross - East Bernard
October 8 - Church of the Visitation - Lott
October 8 - Our Lady of Victory - Victoria
October 15 - Guardian Angel - Wallis
October 15 - Holy Cross Lutheran - Yoakum
October 22 - Sacred Heart - La Grange
October 22 - St. Michael Archangel - Needville
October 22 - St. Paul Lutheran - Columbus
October 22 - Sts. Peter and Paul - Bellville

November 5 - Our Lady of Lourdes - Victoria

May 1, 2017

Gus's Fried Chicken Recipe - 2017

(Special Note to My Readers: Also, be sure to check out my other Gus's Fried Chicken postings as these have additional information on spices for this recipe)

Today, I came as close as I have gotten to figuring out the Gus's Fried Chicken recipe.

I started this blog back in March of 2013.

It is not the Saveur Magazine recipe and it is not the Nora Jones recipe (the two most common recipes that show up when one does a search on the Internet).

The secret is that it is a slurry. You may want to think of it as a batter, but I think slurry is almost a better description since the cornstarch doesn't really fully blend in with the buttermilk (you need to keep stirring as it does separate out if left sitting). You have to mix corn starch and buttermilk to the right consistency, and then add just the right amount of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, etc. followed by just enough Louisiana hot sauce to make it work. Too much hot sauce will affect the crispness. It needs to be a slightly thicker batter ( I would describe it as crepe batter consistency, or, a slightly thinner pancake batter) and it turns out it is also important to leave the skin on the chicken to help the crispness. (Although: I also want to try a straight hot sauce and cornstarch experiment, an icewater and cornstarch experiment, and also a whole milk and cornstarch experiment in the future).

I switched to Canola oil for a while ("Canadian oil low acid"), ignoring my personal opinion that Canola oil gives food a fishy smell and taste. But I am back to recommending Crisco oil or peanut oil as my personal preferences. I just don't like Canola oil.
So, here is what needs to come together for this to work.

The important thing is:
Buttermilk - 1 1/4 cups buttermilk to....
Cornstarch - 1 cup corn starch to make the basic slurry
(experiment with reducing the amount of buttermilk to corn starch to make a thicker slurry)
(note: I've tried a water and corn starch slurry but wasn't pleased with the results. I haven't tried a water and egg with corn starch slurry though…the egg would add viscosity)

And then you will want to season to taste (I have specifically not given guidelines here as I want you to do your own homework; use your best judgement. Everyone's taste buds are different)

Paprika (this will help darken the chicken, giving it some color; I will usually do 1/4 tsp)
Cayenne (this will add heat; I will usually do a 1/2 tsp)
Black pepper (this will add heat; I will usually do a 1/2 tsp)
White pepper (this will add heat; I will usually do a 1/2 tsp)
Garlic powder (personally I just use a pinch because, for me, garlic powder adds an aftertaste to the chicken; but that is just a personal bias)
Salt (go easy on the salt; you can always add salt at the table)
Louisiana hot sauce (start off with 8 dashes per above buttermilk/cornstarch slurry)
MSG (most commercial chicken has some MSG in it; start off with 1/4 tsp and adjust to your preference with the next batch that you make)

Gus's Fried Chicken Recipe - Supplemental - Further Experiments with the Recipe

1 cup corn starch
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Kosher salt

Note 1: It needs some more heat and it needs some of the vinegar flavor from Louisiana hot sauce.
Note 2: Added a pinch or two of sugar to the slurry to test out effect of sugar on the recipe. Not recommended. Added a noticeable and not pleasant sweetness.
Note 3: Corn starch creates a thin crunchy candy-like crust. But it needs the cayenne and paprika to add color.

Gus's Fried Chicken Recipe Supplemental - More ruminations on Gus's Fried Chicken

It is 2017. My previous posts on Gus' Fried Chicken covered my observation that the closest that I could come to the thin, crackly crust would be with a slurry built of buttermilk and corn starch. Is that what the original Gus did back in the 50's? I'm not sure. But it is the closest that I have come in my home kitchen. I never truly cracked the spicing. I could never get the chicken spicy enough, and that was with trying different chiles, black pepper, buttermilk soaks, etc. (see my previous postings).

More recently (actually March 30, 2017 marks the date) I came across a recipe that I had not seen before that calls for an ice water batter with a 50/50 corn starch and flour mix, description of a thin batter to dip the fried chicken in, resulting in a (so said) thin, crispy crust. The writer, Diane Unger, writing for Cook's Country advised: "Ordinary water worked best, bringing to mind some of the Civil War-era-batter-fried chicken recipes I'd researched. Presumably, times were hard and water was fine." Well, this comment sent me in a whole new direction. You see, I was scratching my head, thinking about "what ingredients would have been available in mid 50's, early 60's Tennessee for the recipe? Had someone in the Vanderbilt family spent time in Korea (Korean war era) and learned about the batters used for Korean fried chicken? Maybe not, I'm thinking now after reading her recipe and comments.

Because now, I had Diane Unger mentioning the Civil War.

And so, I began searching through vintage mid to late 1800 cookbooks for batter recipes. So far, I have not turned up anything (I've looked through many vintage African-American cookbooks now without finding any fried chicken batter recipes...just dredge and fry recipes) and hope to contact Diane Unger for some recommended sources. But it would make sense that persons living in Tennessee might have family recipes passed down from that era. Example follows:

Her recipe, published in Cook's Country and republished in the Best Ever Recipes publication called for a brine of sugar, water and salt and then a batter of water, AP flour, cornstarch with baking powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper.

Diane Unger Interview on YouTube

Landing On Love : a website with photos showing preparation of the recipe

Amos Schorr: Low Gluten Flour: In terms of pure crispiness, yes. But you also need to take into account the thickness of the crust itself. Korean-style fried chicken, for example, uses pure cornstarch, and that gives it an incredibly crispy, incredibly thin crust. But American fried chicken is different. It's meant to have a thicker, better seasoned crust.

Chris Young:   Hi @Chris Young. Thank you for your response. I apologise for persisting with the question: why did @Grant Crilly recommend using bread flour for the fried chicken recipe, especially considering how the recipe on Modernist Cuisine's website also recommends using cake flour? I understand that batters and coatings don't work according to one-size-fits-all. However, if you can elaborate on batters and coatings for deep frying and detailed aspects, it will be extremely useful then. Thank you. I think it would have to do with the size of the grains. Cake flour is a finer grain, and bread a little larger. I reckon a larger grain can absorb more milk, and would allow for a thicker coating. Also, cake flour typically is high in starch content

John Fisher, et. al.:   John Fisher@Ellen Hi, any chance you could get an answer for us on this. Which flour will yield the crispier crust, pastry, AP or high gluten? Hi @Saad & @John Fisher: Just had a chance to talk with Grant about this:"The question is, do you want crispy or crunchy? If you want crispy go with the starchier option (rice flour etc.), if you want crunchy, you need high-protein (bread flour).
I've used a combination of cornstarch and rice flour with good results.
That is what I use for crispy chicken wings. Low gluten high starch.
I don't have the answer. However, I would like to point out that in their fish & chips video, the guys coated the fish (dipped in Methyl-cellulose) with cake flour. However, (as you mentioned) in the fried chicken video Grant commented on how using cake flour would result in a soft and spongy coating.

(Here follow my original notes from previous years. But I recommend you go back and read the original posting and the supplements here in my blog.)

Gus's Fried Chicken Recipe

It is not the Saveur Magazine recipe and it is not the Nora Jones recipe (the two most common recipes that show up when one does a search on the Internet).

The secret is that it is a slurry. You have to mix corn starch and buttermilk to the right consistency. It needs to be a slightly thicker batter ( I would describe it as crepe batter consistency, or, a slightly thinner pancake batter) and it turns out it is also important to leave the skin on the chicken to help the crispness.

I switched to Canola oil for a while ("Canadian oil low acid"), ignoring my personal opinion that Canola oil gives food a fishy smell and taste. But I am back to recommending Crisco oil or peanut oil as my personal preferences. I just don't like Canola oil.

So, here is what needs to come together for this to work.

The important thing is:
Buttermilk - 1 1/4 cups buttermilk to....
Cornstarch - 1 cup corn starch to make the basic slurry
(experiment with reducing the amount of buttermilk to corn starch to make a thicker slurry)

An Update to My Gus's Fried Chicken Recipe in Response to an Email - 2017

A. Hi Jay,
I stumbled across your blog as part of my on-going search for the ultimate fried chicken recipe. As a Canadian living in England, I don't know if I can say for sure I've ever had a properly decent piece of fried chicken, so all my info has to come via the internet.
I've been perusing your various notes on Gus's fried chicken, and I was just wondering if you had a more fully-formed recipe I could follow. Not your "final" version, but just the recipe you're working from at the moment, with steps and instructions (brine this long, fry at this temp, use this many chillies...etc.) Is this something you have written down already, or are you more of an improviser?
Thanks so much for your hard work and dedication to such a proud (and often unappreciated) tradition. Hopefully one day I'll have occasion to make use of your calendar of Texas fried chicken picnics, and try the real deal.

Cheers, John

B. Hello John! Thank you for this great email.

I lived in the UK in the early 70's and remember watching the change as more and more American fast food chains came to the UK. We used to go to that original Hard Rock Cafe to get a "proper" hamburger. So much has changed. Now I am sure that KFC is everywhere. I am not certain if the UK has Popeye's or Church's fried chicken franchises yet. And actually, if you get to a Popeye's right when they open and the first chicken of the day comes out of the fryers, it can be pretty darn good.

Currently, if I am making fried chicken for friends, I am using the Donald Link Real Cajun fried chicken recipe that shows up in my March 2013 posting. It is my standard default. I use the same spices that he does, excepting the salt, because I am more sensitive to salty foods.

One of the problems we have here in Texas is that the grocery store chickens are so large that there is a problem assuring that the interior will be thoroughly cooked when the crust color is that golden brown that I desire. Thus, I remove the chicken from the fryer pan when the color is golden, and finish by placing the pieces in an oven at around 300 F to finish cooking.

(You'll note that I skip between English units and metric. My preference is metric because of its precision but I also think in terms of cups and Fahrenheit).

With respect to the Gus style batter recipe, I am now putting 2-3 cups of buttermilk in a blender, processing that with 2-3 fresh jalapeño green chiles that I have toasted on an open flame until the exterior skin is blackened, then peeling the skin and processing the softened chiles with the buttermilk. This bath is what I soak the chicken pieces in for 24 hours. I then remove them, shake off the liquid and dip the pieces in the slurry that I described to fry. This is to get some internal "heat" to be absorbed by the chicken. Though I haven't done it yet, I could see also processing several cloves of garlic at the same time for the marinade/brine.

One 3-4 lb chicken cut into pieces, legs, thighs, wings, breast portion cut into four pieces to reduce their size.
Brined for 24 hours in a 2-3 cup buttermilk bath to which has been processed 2-3 roasted, say, 30 grams, and softened jalapeño chiles.
Removed from bath, all excess liquid shaken off and/or pieces dried with paper or cloth towels and dipped in the Gus formula slurry of cornstarch and buttermilk.

Additional note: the original Gus's recipe definitely includes/uses Louisiana style hot sauce and/or paprika. I remember how red their batter was. This recipe does not have that ingredient as I had not worked on that approach as much recently. My recent experiments were to figure out how to get the chicken to have some "heat", thus, my current method of processing jalapeño chiles with buttermilk. Actually I am using a combo of ghost pepper and jalapeño but that is another story for later.

Fried at 325F (note: here is where work needs to be done. I recently judged a fried chicken competition and they did a first fry at 300 F and then removed and did a second fry at 350 F to get the chicken very crispy....I need to work on my temperatures).

Now. My preference is for deep frying where the pieces are totally immersed and not crowded. If you prefer a pan method, that is okay too. You will not need as much oil. But the chicken may be a little greasier if the upper portion that is not fully submerged grabs more oil. Also, because the bottom of the pieces will be in contact with the pan, it will brown more.

When the chicken reaches a golden color, remove the pieces and place into a 300 F oven for about 30 minutes to assure that the interior is fully cooked (you may need to reduce the time) depending on the size of chicken pieces. This is one of the variables that will have to be worked on in your kitchen. Typically it is the breasts, not the legs or thighs or wings that are not cooked all the way through. (What you are looking for and should achieve if successful, is a thin, crackling crust as opposed to the standard, thicker more breadier crust of a seasoned flour/buttermilk dip such as the Real Cajun recipe).

You will note that I did not mention salt or pepper. That is because I do not like overly salty food and prefer to just salt my chicken after it is fried, when served at the table. If you wish, you. Any add 1 tsp of salt to the buttermilk brine. You may also decide to add 1 tsp of salt to the cornstarch and buttermilk batter. Likewise, pepper. If you use the Real Cajun recipe, just use the seasonings that Donald Link recommends.

Now. One further note. In my research around Texas I have seen chickens dipped in ice water followed by seasoned flour, milk and egg followed by seasoned flour, buttermilk followed by seasoned flour. My opinion is that ice water results in the crispiest crunch, followed by buttermilk which is a little more bready but the one most people prefer.

Be sure to plan to serve the chicken hot and don't cover it because any residual moisture or steam will soften the crust and you will lose your crunch. Thus, keeping the chicken in the oven as needed will assist.

One final note. Another "UK friendly" recipe for pan frying, if you don't want to go to this extreme on a regular basis is this very fine chicken cacciatore recipe from Giada de Laurentiis.

Giada de Laurentiis Chicken Cacciatore

KFC Copycat Recipe - The Colonel's Recipe as Tested by Sara Rae Smith

Here is the link to the Kitchn article by Sara Rae Smith:

I Tried KFC's Secret Fried Chicken Recipe and Here's How It Went

(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)
If there was a magical list of secret recipes that everyone on the internet has attempted to make before, KFC's fried chicken is pretty much at the top of that list. There are many copycat recipes around the internet, and they all claim that theirs is the one that reigns supreme, but KFC claims that none come close to the original.
Recently I found out that the supposed real mixture of magical 11 herbs and spices was released, and of course I scrambled to put it to the test. Man oh man, I'm sure glad I did!
(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)
Our friends over at the Chicago Tribune recently had a chat with the the nephew of Colonel Sanders, who spent his summers, back in the day, cutting up chickens and making up the secret 11-spice mixture to sell to local restaurants. I decided that this recipe — found in a family photo album — obviously needed to be tested in my own kitchen.
As any good cook would do when replicating such a trusted and iconic food and taste, I overthought everything. You see, the recipe found in the photo album gives us the spice and flour ratio for the coating to the chicken — but it doesn't tell us how the chicken is treated prior to frying, oil temperatures, length of frying, cooking method (although that's not exactly a secret), or any additional tricks of the trade.
Most recipes aren't rocket science, however, so I stopped analyzing every last fried chicken recipe out there (because it was seriously making my hungry) and decided to trust my gut and do my best to honor what I felt would yield the best results. Surely my Midwestern upbringing had prepared me for this exact moment.
(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

Prep Work

Here's what I came up with on a few of the undeclared recipe points for this batch.
I soaked my chicken pieces in buttermilk and egg for an hour before starting. I let the buttermilk and eggs come to room temperature before soaking and, when all was said and done, my chicken (which came from the refrigerator) was also room temperature. Room temperature is ideal because it will not decrease the temperature of the hot oil once the chicken is submerged.
I decided on wings, thighs, and drumsticks, which, although they don't cook for the same amount of time, would be more close in time than a larger section of breast meat would be.
(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

The Coating

This is where the Colonel's Secret Recipe comes into play. The seasoning is as follows:
  • 2/3 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon basil
  • 1/3 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried mustard
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons white pepper
I mixed the above seasoning with two cups of flour. While I am a large fan of the paper bag method for fried chicken, I don't see every KFC on the planet shaking chicken in a bag before frying, I skipped it this round and went with the more traditional flour-egg-flour dredge in shallow pans.
(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

Frying Method

I, like most people I imagine, don't own a pressure fryer. These things are a few hundred dollars and aren't exactly a go-to small appliance for most homes. I do own a pressure cooker, but adding hot oil to a pressure cooker can create all sorts of havoc. So I fried the chicke in my tabletop fryer (360°F until internal chicken temperature reaches 165°F — roughly eight minutes), as I am a fan of the lid which regulates temperature and lack of splatters.
(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

The Results

You know how you try "the ultimate" whatever recipe that surfaces online and, although it tastes good, it never really lives up to the brand name of the real thing? This recipe ... this isn't that. You guys. Seriously. I can't. The taste of its crispy skin is a dead ringer for its commercial counterpart. KFC might deny that the spice mixture given to the Chicago Tribune is incorrect, but it sure tastes like the real thing.

The taste of its crispy skin is a dead ringer for its commercial counterpart.

The texture, on the other hand, was not an identical match to KFC. Although I greatly enjoyed the extra-crunchy, thick skin of the chicken, it didn't foster the same memories of the soft yet textured skin that come spilling out of the traditional red-and-white bucket. If I wanted to make this recipe as KFC as possible, I think my beloved paper bag method for flouring would have been more thin and even. In addition, if it had been cooked in a pressure fryer, the time would have been lessened and the texture on the outside would have been a little softer, making the thickness less noticeable.
Now, keeping in mind that my job is to be overly critical of a few pieces of chicken, the masses that wandered into my home — children from the yard, husband from repairing the roof, neighbors from doing neighbor things — everyone was a fan. Every. Last. One. This recipe is a winner! When you give it a go in your own home, make sure to make enough to feed a pack of wolves.
All hail the overabundance of white pepper and 10 other delicious seasonings, as this recipe will be around our home for a while!

Paula Deen Recipe - Good Ol' Paula Deen, Y'all

I became more respectful of Paula Deen after I saw her do several hours of what can only be called 'stand up' at the Metro cooking show last year. Before that she was one of those Food Network personalities that I would turn off the sound to and just read the close captioning. I liked her recipes but that whole "y'all" thing got to me. But she won me over with her humor and command of the crowd.

I came across a recipe of hers that uses eggs and hot sauce. So, since I am ready to try out egg batters, this sounds perfect for my next experiments. What will it taste like? Stick around for more details.

Update: I did the chicken recipe and consider this a very good recipe if one likes the more cracker-like crunchy crust. I believe that the lack of moisture, the vinegar in the hot sauce and the eggs prevented the gluten from developing as much as would be the case with a milk or water soak. This was my first use of a self-rising flour, too. The crust stayed crispy long after the chicken came out of the fryer, again because the gluten hadn't developed. Flavor-wise, even with a cup of hot sauce mixed into the eggs, it wasn't that spicy. I cut large chicken breasts into thirds and found that, when the crust was the right color and crunch, the interior hadn't cooked thoroughly. So, I sliced into the pieces with a knife, cutting through to the center to open the chicken up, and returned them to the fryer. I followed the recipe and did not flour, dip and re-flour. I did an experiment with half with the dutch oven covered, in order to test out the pressure cooker theory. But I couldn't detect any significant difference.

Pressure cooking. KFC and Pollo Campero both use a pressure frying method. I always assumed that this meant they were sealing the chicken in a pressure cooker. But recently I've read up on using a heavy, cast iron dutch oven, the lid of which holds in the steam and allows pressure to build up.

Impressed by the crunch but prefer the classic buttermilk, AP flour batter still.

Southern Fried Chicken

From Paula's Home Cooking/Paula's Party Episode: Decades/Savannah Country cookbook/Mar/Apr 2007 issue

5 stars based on 229 Reviews
Servings: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 14 min
Difficulty: Easy


Paula Deen’s House Seasoning
2 1/2 lb chicken, cut into pieces
2 cup self-rising flour
1 cup hot red pepper sauce
3   eggs


Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep pot. Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil.
In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange (about 1 cup). Season the chicken with the House Seasoning. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg, and then coat well in the flour. Place the chicken in the preheated oil and fry the chicken in the oil until brown and crisp. Dark meat takes longer than white meat. Approximate cooking time is 13 to 14 minutes for dark meat and 8 to 10 minutes for white meat.
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen