waffle ice cream in chicken skin cup

Ah, chicken & waffles.  Having grown up in Los Angeles, I’ve made a few late-night pilgrimages to the famed Roscoe’s House of Chicken’n Waffles, and every now and then, I get a craving for crispy fried chicken alongside a lightly toasted waffle.  But other times, my desires are a little more unsavory (pun intended). So, in a recent [epic] Jet City Gastrophysics jam session, we came up with the above: waffle-flavored ice cream served in a crispy chicken skin cup, with maple syrup. 

The first step is to make a neutral ice cream base infused it with waffle flavor. Jethro took on the challenge and nailed it.  He used a standard ice cream recipe (6 egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar, ice cream machine, etc) except for three variations:

  1. He toasted up 6 Eggo waffles and soaked them in the milk after it had been brought to a simmer.  After 30 minutes he pressed the milk/waffle goop through a sieve.
  2. He replaced half the required amount of sugar with maple syrup.
  3. For good measure he threw in a chunk of butter to give it that waffle flavor.

chicken skinnedNext, we needed to make a chicken skin cup.  So, I skinned a chicken (it was already dead).  We thought that an intact chicken skin was fun to play with, so we gave it some time in the spotlight, as you can see on the left.  With a little Activia, we could have done a Silence of the Lambs dish (it puts the Hoisin on the skin, or else it gets the hose again!) but we decided that we’re probably on enough FBI watch lists already. 

I removed as much of the fat as I could from the inside of the skin, making sure not to accidentally create any holes.  Using a 4” biscuit cutter as a guide, I removed a circle of skin to eventually form our cup. 

With the waffle cone maker preheated, I crisped the skin until it was golden brown, but still slightly pliable.  I immediately placed the disk on top of an inverted stainless steel condiment cup, then pressed another cup down against the skin to form it into a bowl shape.  We waited for the skin to cool down, and lo and behold, it held its form.

One scoop of ice cream and some really excellent maple syrup later, we had an incredibly satisfying dessert that tastes exactly like chicken and waffles.  Unfortunately, it was a little unwieldy to eat in that form factor – the cup was too big to take in one bite, but not quite brittle enough to shatter at the tap of a spoon.  So, we (including Eric, via Skype) brainstormed an alternate presentation. 

 

chicken skin and waffle ice cream with coffee

We decided that the dish would be easier to eat as a single bite served on a waffled chicken skin wafer.  Eric actually suggested making a coronet from the chicken skin and serving the dish as a miniature ice cream cone, but we were feeling impatient.  So, I fried another piece of skin and broke it into shards.  We also garnished the dish with espresso powder, as it seemed a fitting compliment to the breakfasty flavor of the waffle ice cream. 

Ultimately, we determined that the best presentation of this dish would be to cast the ice cream into a miniature waffle mold, served on a waffled chicken skin wafer, topped with maple syrup and perhaps even a miniature dollop of espresso whipped cream.  We’ll save that for round 2.

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beef wellington hors d'ouvre

I love the richness and elegance of beef wellington, particularly for fancy winter dinners.  Beef wellington, if you haven’t had it before, is a medium rare slab of steak, topped with fois gras and mushrooms, then wrapped in puff pastry and baked.  The dish can be an expensive proposition, so I’ve transformed it into economical hors d’oeuvres. 

Makes: about 30 bites
Total kitchen time: 25 minutes (longer if starting with rare tenderloin)

Shopping list:

  • 2 1 lb. fully cooked beef tenderloins (available at Trader Joe’s seasonally)
  • 4 Oz. pâté (chicken or duck will work fine)
  • 2 12” square sheets of puff pastry, thawed but still cold
  • Toothpicks, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and set the top rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. If you are starting with an uncooked beef tenderloin, season it to taste and cook until rare.  Allow the tenderloin to come to room temperature before carving, at least 30 minutes.  If using pre-cooked tenderloin, remove from the packaging and wipe all sides dry with paper towels.  Cut the tenderloin into long, 1” square strips.  You should get about 3 good strips per tenderloin; the rest can be saved for excellent next-day sandwiches!
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick mat.  Lay out one sheet of puff pastry and place the cut tenderloin about 1/2” from the top edge.  Spread a little of the pâté on top of the tenderloin.  Then, carefully fold the puff pastry over the tenderloin, rolling the meat and the dough until you’ve completely encased the tenderloin.  Press the dough down at the seam to seal it.  Using a sharp knife, cut the sealed portion of dough away and place on the baking sheet.  Repeat for a total of three “logs” per sheet of puff pastry.
  4. Bake until the puff pastry is golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before cutting.  Slice each “log” into 1” pieces, skewer with a toothpick, and serve!

We were able to save a little cash by using chicken pâté instead of expensive (and rare) fois gras.  We also left out the mushroom mixture you usually find in beef wellington – for our purposes, the mushrooms would be a little messy since they’d fall out the sides of the cut pieces.  Trust me, your guests won’t miss them.

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