Hoisin Pork Lettuce Wraps

Y’all, can I half-way complain about something? Just for a few minutes. I promise I’ll make this quick.

I’m in my third year of living on the West coast now. I’m well aware by now that the weather here is much warmer, for much longer than it was in the Mitten at this time of year. I know that we don’t get to really see the seasons ‘change’. I know that corn mazes, apple orchards, and sweater weather aren’t really a ‘thing’ outchea.

I miss all of the above, but I’m still fine with going without all of that. There’s just one thing that is really starting to bug me.

I am so sick of the heat.

Seriously. I’m not just over it, I’m overBOARD it. I kinda expect those summer temperatures to carry into September, but by the time October rolls around, I’m kinda ready for them to move along on their way. And they haven’t. They haven’t gone ANYWHERE. Like I said, I’m not exactly expecting sweater weather but I’d at least be able to walk home without getting sweaty.

AND ANOTHER THING. This weather is really putting a damper on my autumn appetite.

Y’all get autumn appetites too, right?

Much like in the summer, I have a massive appetite for things like charcoal BBQ, lots of fruit and whipped cream and lemonade. But as we roll into October, my summer appetite starts to fade and my autumn appetite starts to rev its engine.

And suddenly, all I want is comfort, stick-to-your-ribs food: stew, chili, pot roast, cornbread, apple cider, cinnamon sugary stuff. All of the things that warm you up from the inside out and make you want to take a nap.

But guess what? I’m not really in the mood for food that warms me up on the inside when I’m already too hot from the weather outside. That’s my half-complaint. It’s autumn and I’m not in the mood for autumn food because it still feels like the dead of summer where I’m at. ‘Kay, that’s it. Now onto the food.

Since it’s still too hot outside for autumn food where I’m at, I figured that I could just make something that catered more to the summer weather. Lettuce wraps are right up there so far as I’m concerned. They’re light, they’re refreshing, they’re lower in carbs than tacos. (I don’t really care about that last part, but whatever, they’re still yummy and summery).

Hoisin sauce is like an Asian style ketchup–except in my opinion, it’s much tastier. Hoisin, soy sauce, minced ginger and chili sauce forms the base of the sauce that the pork in this dish is braised in. All together it makes for a sauce that’s salty-sweet, and given a punch of spiciness from the ginger and garlic. Make sure you get lettuce that’s going to hold it’s shape when you place the meat and toppings inside–Boston Bibb or butter works best. I drizzled Sriracha on top of mine to make it extra spicy. It may not be summer anymore, but if you’ve got summer weather where you’re at, maybe you’d like to try this yourself.

****************************************************************

Hoisin Pork Lettuce Wraps

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs of boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • Pepper, Onion powder and garlic powder
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion, cut into chunks.
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Sesame seeds
  • Butter or romaine lettuce leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Season the meat all over liberally with the pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over high heat. Sear the meat until browned, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Add the onion to the pot and stir to coat the onion in the browned bits. Allow to saute until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the garlic and allow to saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the soy sauce, hoisin, brown sugar, fresh ginger, chili sauce, five spice and chicken broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat to a low simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add the pork back to the pot and stir to combine.

Cover tightly with lid or alumnum foil. Bake in the oven until the pork is softened and easily pulled with a fork, 1 1/2-2 hours. Serve the pork with the lettuce leaves, shredded carrots and sesame seeds.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #245, co-hosted by Liz @ spadesspatulasandspoons.com and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio.

Honey Sugar Cookies

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I’ll go ahead and say it again: I have a mild obsession with sugar cookies.

I use the term ‘mild’ rather loosely. The reality is, I adore them. I think they’re the best dessert that there is. I could eat them every day (I don’t, but I could). I’ve shared more than a few recipes for them on the blog already. I do have my favorites, but there’s honestly something about each one that makes them different and delicious in their own way.

Take it from someone well practiced in eating them: all sugar cookies aren’t created equal. They don’t all come out the same way. Part of this comes down to personal preference. Part of it comes down to the ingredients. Some people are on Team Crispy Sugar Cookies. Others (like me) are on Team Soft Sugar Cookies. Some prefer them unfrosted/un-iced and others won’t take them any other way.

While I do like a good hardened glaze, I will say that I’ve found that a truly good sugar cookie won’t need it. It just won’t. The cookie texture itself will be soft enough to where it doesn’t need the moisture from frosting or glaze. The flavor of vanilla, almond or citrus will be strong enough to not need the added sugar in a frosting or glaze to make it sweet enough to taste like something besides flour.

(And you would be surprised at how often that happens. Like I said: they ain’t all created equal.)

Typically I only try new sugar cookies recipes if there’s something about them that appeals to me. I was flipping through Food Network Magazine one day and I saw this one. It appealed to me, not just because the cookies were pretty, but because they included an ingredient that I had never used in a cookie dough before: honey.

I’ve used honey before in gingerbread. It functions as both a sweetener and a way to keep the final product moist. Because I liked the results with gingerbread, I thought it would be worthwhile to see how it would affect sugar cookies, which are typically sweetened with just…sugar. These do have sugar too, but they also have about 1/4 cup of honey.

Because it’s autumn, I decided to use a pumpkin cookie cutter for these. They hold their shape very well so just about any cookie cutter you wanted to use will work great.

I really, really liked how they turned out. The honey gives them a special sweetness and flavor–you can definitely tell the difference between this and regular sugar cookies. They’re soft and slightly chewy. They’re delicious. Have a good weekend, everyone.

**********************************************************************

Honey Sugar Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the honey and egg, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the vanilla.

In a small bowl combine the flour with baking powder and the salt, stirring together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined.

Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough out on a clean and floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie cutter into powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess and transfer to cookie sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.*

Freeze cut out cookies for 10-20 minutes.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little bit more sugar. Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. Allow to sit on the pan for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #244, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

French Vanilla Trifle Cake

Yesterday, I turned 29.

I am now in the last year of my twenties, and it feels odd. I’m not sure how old I feel exactly, but it isn’t one year shy of 30. But regardless of how I feel, this is where I’m at. My birthday usually passes without much celebration or fanfare and I’m fine with that. There is however, one celebratory act that since I learned to cook/bake, does happen every year without fail.

I bake myself a cake.

*Could* I just buy some cake from a bakery or a store? Sure. *Could* I ask a relative or friend to bake one for me? Of course.

But see, here’s the thing: nowhere I could buy it from and nobody I could ask (with the exception of my grandma) could bake me a better cake than the one that EYE would bake. I’m not even bragging. Those are just facts.

So, I do it myself. And I must say, I don’t disappoint.

These are some of the cakes I’ve made for my birthdays over the past few years on the blog: there’s this one. And this one. This one was *especially* good. And I still fantasize about this one.

I’m just good at birthday cakes. And this year was no exception.

The very first cake that I fell in love with as a kid was a plain old vanilla cake. When it’s done well, there’s just nothing like it in the world. I had a lot of options for this year, but ultimately I decided to just go with that: a really, really good grown up vanilla layer cake.

How do you guys think I did?

The cake itself is flavored with both vanilla AND almond extract. The almond may seem like a surprise addition, but trust me: that’s what’s going to give it that little extra ‘something’ that would make you swear it was made in a bakery and not your own kitchen.

To make the cake more ‘grown up’ and to cut down on the sweetness of the vanilla buttercream, I decided to include a tart fruit filling. I had a jar of ligonberry preserves from IKEA that I was itching to try and as ligonberries remind me of a very sweet cranberry, I thought they would pair very well with strawberries. I was right.

This cake was so good. It was a delicious birthday present to myself & I guarantee that it will make a delicious present to anyone you decide to make it for–yourself included.

*****************************************************************

French Vanilla Trifle Cake

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For Filling

  • 1/2 cup ligonberry preserves (You can find them at IKEA. You can use strawberry or raspberry preserves as well.)
  • 2 quarts fresh strawberries, diced

For Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 48 oz. powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour four 2 inch cake pans and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, and salt. Stir with a fork and set aside. In a small bowl combine the buttermilk with the vanilla extract and set aside.

Using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer (or a handheld one) cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients to the butter mixture with the wet ingredients. Start and end with the flour mixture, and make sure you use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

Divide evenly between the two cake pans on the middle rack of the oven for 32 to 36 minutes. (Cake is done at an inner temp of 190-195 degrees Fahrenheit). Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and to wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour).

For Buttercream Frosting: Beat together the butter, vanilla and salt until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, alternating with the milk 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at a low speed until blended and smooth after each addition until it reaches your desired consistency.

To assemble: Level the tops of each cake. Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on the platter. Pipe a border of frosting around the edges of the cake. Spread the layer with about 2/3 cup of buttercream. Top with first the sliced strawberries, then spread the preserves on top of that with the spatula. Top with the remaining cake layer. Spread entire cake with just enough frosting over the top and sides to make a crumb coat. (It should be thin).  Refrigerate cake for one hour until the crumb coat is firm. Finish spreading the remainder of the frosting on the cake. Refrigerate for an additional hour, just to let buttercream firm up. Remove the parchment strips from the platter before serving.

Linking to this week’s Fiesta Friday #243, co-hosted this week by Catherine @ Kunstkitchen’s Blog and Becky @ Bubbly Bee.

Vanilla Wafers

This week’s episode of the Cooking is My Sport show is entitled “But Jess…Is It Really Worth It, Though?”

Thank you for tuning in. It’s going to be a good one.

Over the past few years on the blog, I’ve shared recipes for things that many of us could, theoretically buy from elsewhere rather than make ourselves. It is easier and more convenient go to our local grocery store and buy something with little to no trouble.

I could buy quite a few of the things that I post here–if not from a grocery store, then from a bakery or something. And though even EYE I am not going to go to the trouble of making something like, puff pastry, for the most part, I really do cook or bake most of what we eat. Why do I do this?

Because I believe it’s worth it. I really do.

If you ask, “But Jess, is it REALLY worth it, though?” to bake Christmas cookies rather than just buying some in a store, I’m going to say yes. It’s worth it.

Ask “But Jess, is it REALLY worth it, though?” to bake your own cake from scratch, then go to the trouble of making your own buttercream and skip the store bought cake with that greasy, lardy crap, I’m going to say yes. It’s worth it.

Come to me with, “But Jess, is it REALLY worth it, though?” to make biscuits from scratch when they’re available at the local chicken joint, I am DEFINITELY gonna say, yes. It’s worth it.

(My biscuits are better than any others that you can buy anywhere else anyway. Including Popeyes. Yeah, I said it.)

I shared the recipe for my grandma’s banana pudding on the blog years ago. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever made–but up until recently I had always made it with store-bought vanilla wafers. I’ll be honest and admit that is the way that she makes it, and it tastes fantastic. But recently, I decided to see what it would be like if I went the extra mile and made the pudding with vanilla wafers that I made by myself. Any guesses on how it went? Anyone?

OHMYGODGAMECHANGER.

From the beginning, I had two major concerns for the recipe as a whole: the short, crisp texture of store-bought wafers and the intense vanilla flavor. If I wasn’t going to get a comparable or superior result to the store-bought version, it just wouldn’t be worth it in the long run to make them. I’m pleased to report that this recipe delivers on both. They are crisp, but the butter keeps them from being too crunchy or crumbly. They’re not too sweet, and that vanilla flavor is spot on. Even if I had no intention of making banana pudding at all, I still would’ve considered this time well spent–it’s that tasty a cookie.

Go ahead and ask me: “But Jess…is it REALLY worth it, though?”

Yes. It’s worth it.

************************************************************

Vanilla Wafers

Recipe Adapted from Williams Sonoma

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the flour with the salt, stir together with a fork and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a hand-held one) cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you mix. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Stir the flour into the butter mixture, just until blended. (If it’s a little dry, you can add a few tablespoons of milk, one at a time, just until it holds together.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Sprinkle a rolling pin and clean work surface (like a pastry mat, wax paper) with powdered sugar.

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Keep the other 3 in the fridge while you roll out the 1 portion to about 1/4 inch thick. Use a small (1 1/2 inch), round cookie cutter to cut out rounds. Place the rounds on the sheet pans.

Refrigerate the cookies on the pans for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle each one with white sugar, then bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until the edges and bottoms are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks and let cool completely.

(Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #242, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Jen @ Apply To Face Blog.)

Cornmeal Biscuits and Honey Butter

 

Hi, y’all. Sorry that it’s been a bit quiet around here for a while. I had company visiting and didn’t get around to getting up last week’s post. But things should be getting back to normal and on schedule now. I’ve got some recipes coming that I’m really excited to share in the coming week’s and today’s is one of them, so let’s just jump right into it.

Surprise!

Yet another biscuit post. You excited yet? You should be. Biscuits alone are exciting to me, but these especially since they feature one of my favorite ingredients to both bake and cook with: cornmeal.

I’ve said before that I have a mild obsession with cornmeal and the proof is in the amount of baked goods I’ve shared already on the blog. Take your pick, really. Cornbread. Yeast bread. Scones. Crackers. Some of it’s savory, some of it sweet. It’s a versatile ingredient and if you’re not familiar with it, allow me to strongly recommend you try to incorporate it into your baking routine. I think there are very few things that can’t be improved with a bit of cornmeal added to them.

I’ve shared a recipe for cornmeal biscuits on the blog before, but that one was also flavored with ginger and Chinese Five Spice to pair with some fried chicken that I also flavored with five spice. This time around, I decided to go with more ordinary, traditional flavors that would produce a biscuit that could go with any kind of meal.

So what’s the role that cornmeal plays in a biscuit? I’ve found that cornmeal (yellow cornmeal, that is) does two things to a biscuit: first it’s going to provide a contrast of texture that wouldn’t necessarily be in a biscuit made with just white flour. Don’t worry: it’s not at all going to be tough, but yellow cornmeal will make it slightly more grainy and chewy. Sounds weird, but I promise it’s marvelous. Second, yellow cornmeal has a natural savory flavor of its own. In the case of these biscuits, the cornmeal helps to further bring out the flavors of the salt and pepper in the dough.

Although these biscuits do lean on the savory side, I paired them with a smooth, honey butter spread that comes together in seconds. The butter brings a great balance between the savory & sweet of these biscuits as a dish and honestly, I could eat them all on their own without even needing to add them to a meal. If you try them yourself some time, you’ll understand why. Have a good week, everyone.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #241, co-hosted this week by Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

***************************************************************

Cornmeal Biscuits and Honey Butter

Recipe Adapted from Country Living

Print

Ingredients

For Biscuits

  • 3 1/4 cups cake flour, spooned and level
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup frozen butter
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

For Honey Butter

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients and stir a few times to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut biscuits, pressing and rolling the scraps together to make more biscuits two additional times. Discard the rest of the dough.  Place biscuits, slightly touching, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. (You may have to cover the biscuits with foil if they begin to brown too quickly.

For the Honey Butter: Use a fork to briskly stir the honey into the butter until it’s smooth. Store in the fridge.

Potato Herb Bubble Bread

Everyone knows and agrees that (s)mashed potatoes are wonderful. At least, everyone should know and agree about that. I don’t know if I trust you if you don’t like (s)mashed potatoes. I threw in the ‘s’ because I prefer smashed potatoes with a bit of texture to the creamy mashed ones, but regardless of which one you like they’re all delicious.

There’s only one thing that’s not so great about (s)mashed potatoes….they don’t really make the best leftovers. Once they’ve sat in the fridge overnight, they seize up and become pasty and stiff. True, you can revive them with a little bit of milk and butter but eh…they’re probably not going to be as tasty as the day you first made them.

So, what DO you do with them?”

You could make fried/sauteed (s)mashed potato croquettes. You could make potato pancakes. You could make shepherd’s pie. You could waffle them. You can even be like me and make a ‘spread’ out of them for turkey sandwiches. (Try it sometime, it’s fantastic).

Or, if none of the above tickles your fancy, you can always bake bread.

That’s right, folks. You can take those leftover mashed potatoes and turn it into a yummy loaf of bread. It’s not magic, but the taste sure can give that impression. Curious about what adding the mashed potato does for the bread? The mashed potato acts as both a moisturizer and flavor enhancer. Interestingly enough, it will also make the dough lighter. I don’t completely understand how, but I’m no food scientist. I’m just a home cook and so long as it turns out a nice finished product, it’s fine by me.

Don’t feel restricted when it comes to shaping this bread. The recipe is flexible enough to where you could make one simple loaf with no frills, individual rolls, a braid, a round loaf in a cake pan–anything really. I took the idea of a previous post I did of Corn Bubble Bread and decided to go with it here too. The method is really simple: you divide the dough into tiny balls them layer them on top of each other in a tube pan. After the dough’s had it’s second rise and bakes off, the top forms a ‘bubble’ pattern.

If your mashed potatoes are a little stiff and/or pasty after sitting in the fridge, I would recommend thinning them out with a little bit of milk, just to make them easier to incorporate evenly throughout the dough. I also strongly suggest that they be seasoned ahead of time–this will help your bread come out tasting even better. Also, don’t be shy when it comes to adding your favorite herbs. Your efforts will be rewarded with a featherlight, chewy, savory loaf of bread that is pretty to look at, a treat to eat and simply PHENOMENAL when toasted.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #238, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Mikaela @ Iris and Honey.

******************************************************************

Potato Herb Bubble Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Print

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 cup cold mashed potatoes (if they’re on the stiffer side, I recommend thinning them out with some milk. They don’t need to be soupy, this is just so that they’re easier to incorporate into the dough)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of your favorite fresh herbs, finely minced (I used sage and thyme)
  • 4-4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Directions

In a small bowl, pour the water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and frothy.

Whisk together the eggs and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large bowl) pour in the yeast mixture, remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, beaten eggs, softened butter, mashed potatoes and herbs. Use the paddle attachment (or use a wire whisk) and mix together until just combined. Switch to the dough hook (or use a wooden spoon) and gradually add in the flour, one cup at a time. It’s okay if the dough is sticky. (You may not need to use all of the flour, this varies according to location and time of year.)

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead it with your hands, about 8 minutes until dough is only slightly sticky and mostly smooth. (It should form one solid mass) Grease the mixing bowl, then place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Allow to proof until doubled in size, about 1 1/2- 2 hours.

Grease one 10” tube pan. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and turn dough out onto it. Punch dough down a few times to deflate air bubbles. Use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to divide into 32 equal pieces; first 2, then 4, then 8, then 16, then 32. Roll each of the 32 pieces into balls, then arrange the balls into 2 layers in the bottom of the tube pan. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Allow to proof until doubled in size, about 1 1/2- 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Remove the plastic wrap & towel, place the tub pan on a half sheet pan, then bake in the oven until golden brown and hollow on the bottom, about 40-45 minutes. (It browns/bakes fast, so check it early and cover if browning too quickly. Bread is done at 190° inner temp.) Allow to cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack before turning out and allowing to cool completely.

Pickle Brined Chicken Tenders

Alright y’all, listen.

I know what you may be thinking, but before you say anything or just click away because you feel like this is just a bad idea, just stay for a few minutes hear me out.

Yes, I mean you too. Stay.

So, I too was skeptical when I first heard about this. Not gonna lie, I was even a tad bit grossed out. I like pickles on my sandwiches, but the idea of my chicken tasting like a pickle? Not so appetizing.

But fortunately, that’s not what’s going on here at all. Let me be clear: you are not going to take a bite of this and just taste pickle.

I promise, you won’t.

The whole purpose of brining in the first place is to flavor and tenderize the meat so that it stays juicy and doesn’t dry out while frying. Most times people do this by brining their chicken in buttermilk. I’ve brined chicken in both buttermilk and now, pickle juice.

Would you like to try and guess which one that I prefer?

Yep. The pickle juice. Seriously.

Normally when I did my buttermilk brines before, I would flavor the buttermilk with some spices, just to try and get some extra flavor infused into the meat. But this time, I didn’t have to bother; the pickle juice does all the work for me. All I did to prepare the chicken for the brine was throw it in a gallon size Ziploc bag, then pour the pickle juice over it, seal the bag, then put it in the fridge and walk away. That’s literally it. The spices in the pre-made pickle juices worked together to not only keep the meat moist, but they infused incredible flavor into it as well.

Once the chicken is taken out of the brine, it gets tossed into my tried & true flour mix & batter. This is the best fried chicken batter I’ve ever had or made, bar none. The crust is just out of this world. It crunches in your mouth. It’s full of flavor. It stays absolutely PUT. Even when it gets cold. Even after it’s been refrigerated, OVERNIGHT. Believe me, once you’ve made it this way, you will never go back to another fried chicken batter as long as you live.

I’m not worried about sharing this recipe with y’all because I know that once you put aside your doubts and just try this out, I’m going to make pickle brining believers out of all you. The results will speak for themselves. Your meat is going to be so tender and juicy, with just the *faintest* tang from the pickle juice. That tang is offset perfectly by the savory saltiness of the crust. It works– I was honestly surprised by how well it works.

You know how much I was won over by this? Every time we finish off a jar of pickles now, I keep the jar of juice in the back of my fridge, impatiently waiting until we go through enough of them to have enough juice to brine another batch of chicken so I can fry it up again. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what it is. Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #237, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

************************************************************************

Pickle Brined Chicken Tenders

Print

Ingredients

  • About 3-4 lbs of chicken tenderloins
  • Up to 3 cups of pickle juice (enough to fully submerge the chicken, but if you don’t have enough then supplement with buttermilk)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of Lawry’s or other seasoning salt
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite mix of dry herbs (like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary)
  • Plenty of seasoning salt & pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • Vegetable, Canola or Peanut oil for frying (4-6 cups)

Directions

Place the chicken inside gallon size resealable plastic bags, or a large shallow dish with a lid. Pour the pickle juice over the chicken, seal and refrigerate overnight.

In a medium size, shallow bowl/baking dish, combine the all purpose flour with the seasoning salt, pepper,  and dried herbs. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, rice flour, onion powder and water with a large whisk or flour until thoroughly combined (it’ll be thick, like tempura batter. If need be, you can thin it out with a few tablespoons of additional water).

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or plastic wrap on the bottom, then place a wire rack on top.

Remove the chicken from the pickle juice and discard it. Dip each piece of chicken in the shallow dish of all purpose flour with a fork to get a light dusting on both sides, then dip it into batter, holding it up to allow some of the excess to drip off. Then, re dip it into the all purpose flour until the wet batter is sufficiently covered. Place the chicken on the wire rack to allow batter to set, about 2-3 minutes.

Working in batches of no more than 3 pieces at a time, fry the chicken in the oil. Turn it occasionally and monitor the temperature of the oil (a instant read thermometer works GREAT for this) as you work until it is golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. (It may look a little pale, but it browns more when you take it out, so don’t worry) When finished remove chicken to another sheet pan lined with paper towels and a wire rack to drain.