~ JoePa's Chicken Things ~
Here's another one of my husband Joe's ("JoePa" as per our grandson David) recipes. These beer-batter dipped, panko-crusted, deep-fried "poppers" are SO much better than ordinary fried chicken. A few years ago, when I began experimenting using panko in my "crispy coated fried food" recipes, one afternoon, Joe decided to surprise and present me with a brand new recipe he could call his own. After tasting them, I proclaimed, "these chicken things are great!" Hence the name: JoePa's Chicken Things!
A bit about panko bread flakes: Sometimes referred to as Japanese breadcrumbs, panko has a coarser texture, is much lighter and makes for a crunchier crust than ordinary breadcrumbs. They are made from traditional Japanese bread, the loaves being slowly dried then shredded into crispy flakes. Tan-colored panko is made from a whole loaf of bread, while white-colored crumbs result from using bread without the crust. Panko is basic to Japanese cuisine, but its texture enhances recipes and adds excitement to all types of cooking and cuisines. Panko bread flakes create a deliciously cruncy crust on all types of fried or deep-fried food and I use them a lot here in Melanie's Kitchen!
~ Step 1. Besides the pancake mix (about 5 cups total), panko (about 6 cups total) and beer (2, 12-ounce bottles), you will need 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, or 4 1/2-5 pounds total.
Using a chef's knife, trim each breast half of any visible fat, then cut each one into 10-12, 1"-1 1/2" chunks (or "things" as we call them in our house).
~ Step 2. It just so happens it's a nice day here in Happy Valley, so I've decided to set my assembly line up outside on "Joe's Vegetable Table." This is where he puts his freshly picked garden vegetables!
~ Step 3. After you mix the pancake mix with the beer, set the mixture aside for about 5 minutes, to allow the beer batter to thicken.
~ Step 4. Dredge 4-6-8 pieces of chicken "things" in the dry pancake mix. Only dredge as many pieces as the the basket of your deep-fryer can handle comfortably without crowding. Preheat the deep-fryer to 360 degrees.
~Step 5. Things move faster here. Dip each piece of dredged chicken into the wet beer batter. Shake any excess batter off of each piece back into the bowl. Dredging, dipping, coating and frying goes quickly once you get it started.
~ Step 6. Coat each batch of beer batter dipped chicken things in the panko.
It's a little more work, but I like to add the panko to the baking dish a little at a time, or just enough to coat each batch of chicken things. This keeps the panko from getting sticky towards the end of the frying process.
~ Step 7. Fry each batch of chicken things about 6-8 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Don't be inclined to overcook them to a deep golden brown color. As they cool, they continue to cook on the inside and if they are initially too brown, they dry out. Immediately transfer things to a paper towel lined dish or platter. Immediately and generously salt the things. Continue this process untill all things are deep-fried and salted:
Special Equipment List: deep-fryer (or 6-8-quart stockpot); cutting board; chef's knife; whisk; tongs; 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish (for panko); paper towels; 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish (for finished chicken things)
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2010)