roasted chicken
Deep frying your Thanksgiving turkey is popular for a reason – it happens to be the same reason that Lipitor is popular, but that’s beside the point.  Unfortunately, every year, 10 million* Americans start house fires from attempting to fry their bird.  And in addition to the arson hazard, deep frying a turkey requires a ton of oil, which, let’s face it, you’re not going to filter and reuse.

Luckily, the folks at Char-Broil have created The Big Easy Oil-Less Infrared Turkey Deep Fryer, and were kind enough to loan me a unit for testing.  This cooker looks and works just like a conventional turkey fryer, except it uses no oil.  Instead, a ring of gas burners heat up the inside of the cooking chamber, roasting your meat evenly and allowing the fat to drip down, with no risk of flame-ups. 

Rather than test the machine with a turkey, though, I thought I’d try out a few other dishes.  Check out my video review after the jump.

Reading time: 2 min

If sous vide eggs had been invented two thousand years ago, there would have been entire books of The Bible dedicated to their praise.  But at the last meeting of the Jet City Gastrophysics, we took a giant leap forward.  You see, the beauty of a sous vide egg lies in it’s exquisite texture.  After about an hour in the water bath, the yolks become buttery with nearly the texture of pudding.  The only way to improve on this amazing transformation is to add a crunchy shell. 

Makes: 6 pieces
Total kitchen time: 90 minutes (30 minutes active time)

Special equipment: sous vide heating immersion circulator

Shopping list:

  • 6 + 1 organic eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • canola oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. black truffle salt
  • 1 tbsp. fine lemon zest (optional)
  1. Cook 6 eggs (reserving one) sous vide at 64.5°C for 60 minutes.  Let the eggs cool in a bowl of tepid water for 10 minutes.
  2. Turn on the faucet to very low. Working one by one, carefully crack a cooked egg into your hand, and let the white drip away under the water.  Set the yolks aside.
  3. Heat about 1.5 inches of canola oil in a small saucepan until it reaches 360°F (make sure the temp doesn’t exceed 370°F).
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flower, baking powder and sea salt.  In a second bowl, whisk the remaining (uncooked) egg.  Spread the breadcrumbs on a plate.
  5. Gently roll each yolk in the flour mixture, then dip in the egg wash, then roll in breadcrumbs.
  6. Fry each yolk for about 30 seconds, or until lightly golden brown.  Drain on a paper towel, then sprinkle with black truffle salt and lemon zest.

These fried eggs make excellent tapas, particularly if your guests aren’t expecting what’s inside.  Perhaps in another thousand or two years, we’ll discover something even more delicious.

Reading time: 1 min

General Tso's Chicken Pot Pie

Although this may be the antithesis of my own culinary philosophy, the idea was just too indulgent to let go.  But, to do justice to this masterpiece of American-Chinese-American fusion, I felt that I really needed to commit – so most of the ingredients are premade and can be found in the freezer section!  Is this dish the epitome of the bastardization of Asian cuisine?  Perhaps.  Was it actually, shamefully delicious?  You bet.

Makes: 6 ethnically-retarded servings
Total kitchen time: 1 hour

Shopping List:

  • 1 bag frozen Mandarin Chicken (available at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup frozen “Organic Foursome” (carrots, peas, green beans and corn, available at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups prepared sushi rice
  • 1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 premade pie crust, thawed (available at Trader Joe’s) [Note: use 2 pie crusts if making individual pot pies]
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Prepare the Mandarin Chicken according to the package directions, reserving the sauce packets.  Set aside.
  3. Thaw 1 cup of frozen vegetables, and mix together with Mandarin Chicken, sushi rice and soy sauce in a large bowl.  Add the Mandarin sauce and stir to combine.
  4. You can prepare the pot pie in either one large round casserole dish, or in 6 medium ramekins.  If using one dish, spoon in the chicken, vegetable and rice mixture and push into the dish with the back of a spoon to compress.  Top with the pie crust and crimp the edges with a fork.
    If making individual pot pies, divide the filling between 6 medium ramekins and cut the pie crusts into rounds to cover.  Poke small holes in the middle of the crusts to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crusts are golden brown.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

I’m secretly hoping that this dish sweeps the nation (well, at least the middle part) as the next big trend.  There is something delightfully Paula Dean-y about the combination, not unlike “chicken tempura with BBQ sauce”.  So, if you’ve got friends or family who prefer something semi-homemade and anti-culinary, why not pass this gem along.

Reading time: 1 min
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