Why does it feel like most of the dishes prepared for audiences at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic involve poultry? Maybe it is a dish to which everyone can relate? You know when you are trying something new and exotic, like iguana or crocodile, you are invariably told, “It tastes like chicken!”. At any rate, you may find Tyler Florence’s take on chicken to be a new one for you. Tyler Florence, accomplished cookbook author, chef and restauranteur, has been on television for close to twenty years. He looks so young, you will find that hard to believe. Most recently, he hosts some of my favorites shows, such as The Great Food Truck Race, and Worst Cooks in America. He has published about 10 cookbooks, including Tyler Florence Fresh and Inside The Test Kitchen, bottles his own wine, and plans to roll out an app for recipes and food photography.
Tyler prepared a version of his grandmother’s fried chicken recipe, one of his biggest selling dishes out of his restaurant in San Francisco, the Wayfare Tavern on Sacramento Street. The original recipe involves techniques such as cryovac and sous vide, so he modified it for audiences to make it user friendly. “We are in Colorado, you know”, so he called the dish Rocky Mountain High Fried Chicken. I would place bets that his grandmother never imagined her chicken would one day be recreated in this manner.
First, marinate the whole bird, inside and out, with rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic (all rough cut), EVOO, salt and pepper. Then bake in a roasting pan at 200 degrees fahrenheit for 2 hours, cooking it to a doneness of medium rare/medium. What is being accomplishing by doing this is to break down the chicken while the fat and moisture stay in the bird. (NOTE: this is also a trick that can be done for bar-b-que chicken.) In addition, he feels you are creating texture and focusing on the chicken and the crust.
Next, remove, cool, and cut the bird into ten pieces (4 breast, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings). At this point, place the pieces into buttermilk seasoned with hot sauce, salt, pepper and sugar. This can be done ahead of time, earlier in the day or even the day before. Great thing to think about doing in advance if you are having guests over, or are invited to someone’s house for a pot luck.
In a saucepan, heat rice bran oil to 350 and fry some herbs in the oil, which will be the same oil in which you fry the bird. For our demonstration, he used garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme, and, because we were in Colorado, two “heads” of cannabus. Aha, this is where the Rocky Mountain “High” comes into play. Fry for just a minute or so, remove and place the herbs on towel for later.
Meanwhile, prepare the flour using a combination of all-purpose flour, onion powder, garlic powder, rice flour (gives the crust extra crispiness), and a lot of salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour and fry 3-6 minutes in oil 350-370 fahrenheit. Once the chicken is removed from the oil, pat the pieces dry and plate the dish with slices of fresh lemon, salt, pepper, and the fried herbs.