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Chi...Chi...Chi...Chicken
July 24, 2009 8:50 AM   Subscribe

When the 'secret' of the Colonel's blend of herbs and spices was revealed, The Guardian had to test the recipe - and then see if it could be bettered ... (video)
posted by nam3d (115 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't believe it's 9am, I'm starting my work day, and I can't run home and try this right now.

CURSE YOU!
posted by lumpenprole at 8:55 AM on July 24, 2009


The "original recipe" seems to be really nothing more than MSG with some other spices added for color. The Colonel's dirty little secret indeed.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:56 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fried chicken is so damn good.
posted by chunking express at 8:56 AM on July 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Two tablespoons of MSG? No thank you.
posted by dabug at 8:56 AM on July 24, 2009


But what is the secret of the Failure Pile Sadness Bowl?
posted by Auden at 8:59 AM on July 24, 2009 [8 favorites]


Oh, bitchin'. The neat thing about having the spice blend is that I can try for alternate versions that aren't sold at the restaurant! Kentucky Fried Tofu, Kentucky Fried Steak, Kentucky Fried Scotch Eggs... there's room in my GI tract for all a'y'all.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:59 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I found a new way to cook chicken.
posted by cortex at 9:00 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


a pinch of sunshine
1/4 tsp pleasant compliments
sprinkling of pleasant tingling in the crotch
drop of backrub
TWO GALLONS OF HEROIN
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:00 AM on July 24, 2009 [13 favorites]


MSG is just super salt. It makes everything taste better, and has not been demonstrated in any scientific studies to have any deleterious health effects. YumTM.

KFC on the other hand is total bullshit. Avoid.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:01 AM on July 24, 2009 [12 favorites]


William Poundstone covered this in one of his Big Secrets books. It's pretty easy to get a sample of the coating that KFC uses for its chicken from someone who works there and send it to a lab for analysis. (The first time he sent it in, he told them it was from KFC and they sent it right back; the second time he made up a story.)

The secret? It's just salt, pepper, and paprika--the real secret to the taste is in the pressure cooker that they use for the chicken.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:01 AM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


This reminded me of that El Pollo Loco kerfuffle. Mmm, I guess our enterprising chef forgot the suet.
posted by LD Feral at 9:01 AM on July 24, 2009


They fry in a pressure cooker?

I think the smoked paprika is probably a great addition but I'd leave the MSG in the recipe. After all, it is spread out over a lot of chicken.
posted by bz at 9:05 AM on July 24, 2009


Yeah, I hate the way people demonize MSG. It's a truly magical spice and used in sparing amounts can almost magically enhance other flavors.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:05 AM on July 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


MSG is just super salt.

I continue to be amused each time I go to our Asian grocery store and see the MSG aisle. I particularly enjoy the MSG-coated salt.
posted by specialagentwebb at 9:05 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Doesn't KFC use some kind of arcane cooking method for their chicken? Surely that is difficult to replicate at home. How much would that affect the outcome of any recipe?
posted by hippybear at 9:10 AM on July 24, 2009


Love the recipes, could do without the Guardian Southern-stereotype commentary.
posted by blucevalo at 9:11 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Poaching before frying.......... brilliant. Now I must have chicken this weekend. Damn it.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:11 AM on July 24, 2009


I stumbled across a close to KFC flavor by accident once in a failed satay experiment.

Black pepper, basil, sage and peanut butter (or peanut oil) turns out remarkably close. This surprised me because it wasn't the intention at all.

I assume the oregano is an "almost basil", but all the rest must be pretty subtle.
posted by rokusan at 9:12 AM on July 24, 2009


a pinch of sunshine
1/4 tsp pleasant compliments
sprinkling of pleasant tingling in the crotch
drop of backrub
TWO GALLONS OF HEROIN


That's Tim Horton's coffee.
posted by rokusan at 9:12 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


@blucevalo I'm from rural North Carolina. He's not exaggerating. Much.

Also, CHICKEN!
posted by littlerobothead at 9:14 AM on July 24, 2009


I feel like I'd be doing MeFi a disservice if I didn't mention bacon in a thread about food - so, anyone tried this with bacon yet?
posted by empyrean at 9:14 AM on July 24, 2009


Okay, great. Now teach me to make mashed potatoes with meat in 'em like they have at Popeye's.
posted by padraigin at 9:15 AM on July 24, 2009


Yeah, to be fair I like MSG and use it at home quite a bit too.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:16 AM on July 24, 2009


Hmm. I have learned something new. There is such a thing as a pressure fryer. Apparently there were some crummy ones sold years ago for home use and that appear to be a bad idea.

Two consumer brands that can be used safely for pressure frying at home. They look quite sturdy.
posted by bz at 9:17 AM on July 24, 2009


Say what you will, but for me, food with MSG = raging headache, same food without MSG = fine. Tested and proven for my own personal case.
posted by scrowdid at 9:19 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


The challenge with fried chicken isn't a matter of trying to replicate somebody's secret spice mix, it's getting that perfect crispy coating, and at home you'll get that with pan frying, and it will take some practice.
posted by 2sheets at 9:19 AM on July 24, 2009


Actually, my first link is to a commercial low pressure fryer designed to accommodate "today's chickens."
posted by bz at 9:19 AM on July 24, 2009


mrgrimm: "MSG is just super salt. It makes everything taste better, and has not been demonstrated in any scientific studies to have any deleterious health effects. "

When I ingest too much MSG (Chinese food, Penn Station sandwiches), I shit like a rhinoceros.

(Then again, perhaps you don't consider ceratorhine elimination to be 'deleterious'.)
posted by notsnot at 9:22 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


@littlerobothead: I'm a transplant so I definitely defer to you.

And second what you said about the chicken.
posted by blucevalo at 9:22 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


bz, you just solved one of my life's great mysteries, which is why I hate KFC chicken so much....pressurized infusion of salted fat into chicken meat.
posted by mrmojoflying at 9:24 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh Jesus, bacon-wrapped fried chicken.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:24 AM on July 24, 2009


Und keine eier!
posted by Liver at 9:32 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


@adamdschneider looks nice: Bacon-Wrapped Fried Chicken With White Barbecue Sauce.
posted by nam3d at 9:32 AM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Kentucky Fried Chicken is for suckers!
posted by rex quan hasslehoff at 9:34 AM on July 24, 2009


"so, anyone tried this with bacon yet?"

Sort of. I've made fried chicken where I rolled it in minced bacon before dredging in flour. It didn't really have enough bacon flavor, which seemed to get lost in the fry oil.

I'll try bacon wrapped fried chicken this weekend.

I've also made fried chicken where I rolled the pieces in minced pecans before dredging in flour. Now *that* is good.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:37 AM on July 24, 2009


midwesterners know fried chicken, too, and around my neck of the woods, chicken coop beats the hell out of kfc any day of the week except sunday
posted by pyramid termite at 9:37 AM on July 24, 2009


Kentucky Fried Chicken is for suckers!

No, that'd be Kentucky Fried Octopus.
posted by bz at 9:38 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Now teach me to make mashed potatoes with meat in 'em like they have at Popeye's.

oh shit, is that really the secret?

I have much experimenting to do this weekend.
posted by xbonesgt at 9:38 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just need to know, for the sake of my sanity, how many, if any, Mefites have had the buttermilk-fried-chicken at a place called Slogar's in Crested Butte, CO?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:38 AM on July 24, 2009


Question is, will the recipe work with bacon?
posted by spirit72 at 9:39 AM on July 24, 2009


The Colonel was asked to explain his white suit. Surely frying the chicken gets it dirty? How did it stay so pristine? The Colonel just smiled knowingly as he thought of how well the flour was hidden.
posted by discountfortunecookie at 9:44 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


We used to buy a lot of fried chicken from KFC, back in the day. (What can I say, I grew up in Georgia.) But nowadays we buy the whole roasted chickens at the supermarket. The birds are bigger, cheaper for the amount of meat, just as tasty and a thousand percent healthier.
posted by darkstar at 9:47 AM on July 24, 2009


But what is the secret of the Failure Pile Sadness Bowl?

No secret... It's failure. And sadness. In a pile. In a bowl.

:-(
posted by LordSludge at 9:49 AM on July 24, 2009


OK. Seriously.

Pressure frying is an industrial process requiring special equipment, and there is no point to trying to replicate it at home. It's meant to cook big chunks quickly and evenly and to standardized times and temperatures, in a huge quantity of oil that recovers quickly. This is why the crust in KFC is so crisp, fresh out of the fryer.

You can deep fry at home, no problem, in a big cauldron of vegetable oil. It's fairly fast, and you can use a more delicate crust or breading (since the food cooks so quickly). It's really a kind of dry cooking, with a chunk of meat encapsulated in heat that does not add moisture - the chicken cooks in its own steam, leaving it greaseless and kind of fluffy (like chicken tenders or fried chicken for sandwiches). You crank a temperature, drop the chicken in, cook to a time, pull it out. It is expensive because you use so much oil. The crust will not hold up when chilled. If you have a deep fryer it is fast and easy and mess-free and kind of scientific.

But really, the best fried chicken at home is made this way: small buttermilk-marinated chickens shaken with peppered flour, shallow-fried in a cast-iron skillet with an inch or so of vegetable shortening or lard. It takes forever. You have to stand over it and fuss with it, turning the chicken, adjusting the heat, moving pieces around, worrying over it. It makes a mess of your stove and kitchen and clothes, even with those spatter guards. But you get a shattering-crisp crust, dark and crunchy (but never hard) where it rested against the pan surface. The crust is good even the next day, cold. The meat is succulent and moist, but never greasy. It is honest and clean, with complex caramelized flavors that need no extra spicing and surely no MSG. It is good shit.

KFC is good too. But why would you want to make it at home?
posted by peachfuzz at 9:50 AM on July 24, 2009 [53 favorites]


"so, anyone tried this with bacon yet?"

There's a bar near me that serves chicken-fried bacon. It's good, but I think the bacony essence gets lost. Their chicken-fried half a guinea fowl, on the other hand, is sublime.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:50 AM on July 24, 2009


Food detectives did a good show about MSG - Part 1 and 2 are on youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMihS5pFzQ0

(Part1)
posted by synthetik at 9:52 AM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hm... I wonder if you could use this spice mix to make a chicken-fried steak thingee using boca burger patties ...
posted by Auden at 9:53 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought we already knew the recipe:
BENDER: "Here's your Gutenberg Bible, masters, plus the Colonel's Secret Recipe: Chicken, Grease, Salt!"
posted by Monster_Zero at 9:55 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


MSG is just super salt. It makes everything taste better, and has not been demonstrated in any scientific studies to have any deleterious health effects.

Out of curiosity, I did a quick pass of the literature.

I found articles about increased obesity, increased diabetes incidence, a wide range of liver pathologies, and neurotoxicity reports from intake of MSG. Doesn't sound too appealing, to me.

I recommend that interested people check out this person's fairly bold claim for themselves.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:56 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Say what you will, but for me, food with MSG = raging headache, same food without MSG = fine. Tested and proven for my own personal case.

"Tested and proven" blind or not? You might be interested in the results of this 2006 literature review on MSG sensitivity:
Conclusions: MSG has a widespread reputation for eliciting a variety of symptoms, ranging from headache to dry mouth to flushing. Since the first report of the so-called Chinese restaurant syndrome 40 years ago, clinical trials have failed to identify a consistent relationship between the consumption of MSG and the constellation of symptoms that comprise the syndrome. Furthermore, MSG has been described as a trigger for asthma and migraine headache exacerbations, but there are no consistent data to support this relationship. Although there have been reports of an MSG-sensitive subset of the population, this has not been demonstrated in placebo-controlled trials.
MSG occurs naturally in a wide range of fairly common foods. There's oodles of it in Parmesan and quite high quantities in tomatoes. If you enjoy Italian food without any "raging headaches" it's unlikely that the MSG is what causes your headaches after Chinese food.
posted by yoink at 9:58 AM on July 24, 2009 [8 favorites]


Okay, great. Now teach me to make mashed potatoes with meat in 'em like they have at Popeye's.

Okay, that's not the potatoes, that's the gravy, and that meat is chicken organs. Here's how you do it,

Put the contents of that ooky bag that's inside the chicken, plus the neck into a small saucepan and cover with water. Throw a garlic clove, a fresh thyme sprig and some salt and pepper in there. Simmer for a good long time. After it's reduced, take out the sprig (the leaves should have fallen off). Drain the liquid into a bowl. Separate out the neck bones, and cut up the remainder into little pieces. Put that in a bowl. Make a roux in the pot. Add back the liquid. Once it thickens add the chopped up meat. Voila! Guts gravy. If you want it spicy put some hot sauce in it.

As for the taters. The secret to those is white pepper.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:58 AM on July 24, 2009 [10 favorites]


I found articles about increased obesity, increased diabetes incidence, a wide range of liver pathologies, and neurotoxicity reports from intake of MSG.

I wonder how much of that has to do with people just eating too much, thanks to the added flavor of the MSG?
posted by orme at 9:59 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


peachfuzz, you better damn well make me some chicken next meetup.
posted by graventy at 10:03 AM on July 24, 2009


Does anyone have the secret recipe for removing years of caked on grease from frying? The house I have lived in for 14 years has this immovable, impenetrable layer of grease on the cabinet above the stove since the day we moved in. No amount of scrubbing, 409, Simple Green, or other products will remove this fried shellac!
posted by vespabelle at 10:08 AM on July 24, 2009


So your saying that the the Essence of Pure Flavor is actually just water mixed with a generous portion of LSD?

I'll have a second helping, please.

I may have to check out America's Most Wanted Recipes though. I'm not sure if he talks about it, but Applebees does one thing well that I haven't been able to duplicate; their honey mustard sauce, and I love that stuff. Also, I need to see if he talks at all about Chi Chi's Express house dressing, which since they left my area I can no longer get, and the addiction pangs have left me wracked in misery ever since.
posted by quin at 10:09 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, that's not the potatoes, that's the gravy, and that meat is chicken organs. Here's how you do it,

Put the contents of that ooky bag that's inside the chicken, plus the neck into a small saucepan and cover with water. Throw a garlic clove, a fresh thyme sprig and some salt and pepper in there. Simmer for a good long time. After it's reduced, take out the sprig (the leaves should have fallen off). Drain the liquid into a bowl. Separate out the neck bones, and cut up the remainder into little pieces. Put that in a bowl. Make a roux in the pot. Add back the liquid. Once it thickens add the chopped up meat. Voila! Guts gravy. If you want it spicy put some hot sauce in it.

As for the taters. The secret to those is white pepper.


You're right, technically it is the gravy. But I have always thought the potatoes had a little something extra and white pepper sounds right, thank you.

I always thought it was some kind of pork, or possibly even beef, in the gravy because some of the bits are pretty stringy and I don't think of organ meats as being stringy, but that's probably the neck I'm seeing. I admit though, I don't overthink it much because on the rare occasion that I do get Popeye's, I'm too busy omgmashedmeat-tatoes.
posted by padraigin at 10:11 AM on July 24, 2009


Wasn't this figured out a long time ago? I had a book when I was, like, 11 (I'm 25 now) which revealed different "secrets"--all I remember was that it had information on the freemasons and the KFC recipe, which they said was largely MSG, sat, and pepper.

I love MSG, though I suffered from my first MSG headache this year from some pizza-like substance from Pizza Hut. That sucked, but I still think the stuff is delicious.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:15 AM on July 24, 2009


"...pressurized infusion of salted fat into chicken meat."

Pressure cooking and frying as peachfuzz so well points out is a method of temperature control and won't force liquid into meat or produce an infusion. And, as peachfuzz also points out it is a dry cooking method and one of the most efficient of all provided that the oil temperature is well maintained.
posted by bz at 10:16 AM on July 24, 2009


salt, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:17 AM on July 24, 2009


You gotta marinate.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:20 AM on July 24, 2009


Does anyone have the secret recipe for removing years of caked on grease from frying? The house I have lived in for 14 years has this immovable, impenetrable layer of grease on the cabinet above the stove since the day we moved in. No amount of scrubbing, 409, Simple Green, or other products will remove this fried shellac!

I've had good results using TSP (trisodium phosphate). It's a degreaser used for cleaning garage floors and preparing surfaces for painting. I don't know if there's a brand name product for it, but I get it from the paint section of my local Canadian Tire (which is like a cross between Home Depot and Walmart).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:21 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I could give a shit about recreating the Colonel's secret recipe. I mean, I like KFC just fine, as long as we're talking about KFC 20 years ago when it was much, much better.

What I wish with all my heart I could recreate is my Great-Grandmonther's fried chicken. Now that was sublime. I mean, that stuff was Sunday Dinner. Every week. No questions, no complaints. Everybody at Meemaw's house after church for fried chicken, mashed potatoes, maybe some green beans and a couple of meringue pies. I challenge you to describe a better meal.

I can remember watching her cook it in her cast iron skillet, just about the way peachfuzz described upthread. Fretting and bustling over it- getting every piece just right. She had been a restauranteur back in the 50s in the little town I grew up in- and man, that little woman could cook. She'd shake the pieces in a flour-filled paper bag, then ease them into the fat in the skillet. Pop, pop, sizzle, pop, hiss. Turn it. Turn in again. Maybe one more time. Then onto a plate lined with a paper towel to drain a little. One batch at a time.

I have no idea what spices she used, if any other than salt and pepper. I don't know what fat she fried it in. If I wanted to be a little schmaltzy, I'd say the secret ingredient was love. But I think that the real secret was a burning desire to feed a lot of people the best food she could.

I'm so hungry right now. I feel like some sort of fat Southern Proust.
posted by Shohn at 10:22 AM on July 24, 2009 [21 favorites]


i got to know the owner of a local chinese buffet fairly well over a period of years. he had a sign on his front door proudly proclaiming "NO MSG" used in his food. i believe it was the most successful chinese eatery in town because of this. one day he offered me a tour of his kitchen as he was forced by the health department to spend considerable time and money cleaning it up. in front of each wok station stood a young mexican kid and just to his right was a big container of msg that was used in every dish they cooked. the no-msg crowd was, however, able to frequent the place and not develop symptoms.
posted by kitchenrat at 10:27 AM on July 24, 2009 [10 favorites]


I've had good results using TSP (trisodium phosphate). It's a degreaser used for cleaning garage floors and preparing surfaces for painting. I don't know if there's a brand name product for it, but I get it from the paint section of my local Canadian Tire (which is like a cross between Home Depot and Walmart).

Fun fact, TSP is also a food additive, meats are soaked in it to help them retain moisture. So after you're done cleaning the stove, add a glug of the stuff to your chicken marinade for that extra sealed-in juiciness!*

*Cooking with industrial solvents may cause blindness, death, or growth of superfluous limbs. Please don't try this at home.
posted by TungstenChef at 10:30 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does anyone have the secret recipe for removing years of caked on grease from frying? The house I have lived in for 14 years has this immovable, impenetrable layer of grease on the cabinet above the stove since the day we moved in.

Try straight Mr. Clean right out of the bottle. Beware, it might just take the varnish with it. You might also try TSP made extra strong.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:31 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I generally want KFC about once every six months. It's no surprise that "every six months" is suddenly right now. Mmmm.
posted by immlass at 10:31 AM on July 24, 2009


(For some damned tasty mashed potatoes, add some chicken stock to the water when you're boiling the spuds. Got that protip from my favorite churrascaria. I suppose you could even do it to instant mashed if you want, and I even suppose that beef stock could work, too.)
posted by Spatch at 10:40 AM on July 24, 2009


KFC puts me to sleep, without fail, every time. Is that the MSG or the mountains of fat? A little of Column A, a little of Column B?
posted by naju at 10:48 AM on July 24, 2009



Does anyone have the secret recipe for removing years of caked on grease from frying?


When we moved out of our last place, we had a cleaning service come in and clean the heck out of it. We told them not to worry about the soda cardboard box that had completely bonded with the linoleum in the kitchen. They sprayed some industrial cleaner they bought at Home Depot on it and it was cleaned up in about 5 minutes. They said it works on everything--microwaves, horrific fridge spills, oven grease.

I'm not exactly sure what brand they used, but I bet if you go somewhere the pros go, you'll have better luck.
posted by Kimberly at 10:52 AM on July 24, 2009


Here's something I never really understood: is MSG salt?

I mean, there's clearly sodium in there, so how does one relate to the other? Is MSG a variety of salt? Are they cousins? Does MSG contain salt? Does MSG count toward one's sodium as table salt and does it has the same health effects?

I have a lot of questions about salt.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:03 AM on July 24, 2009


Well, "salt" in chemistry applies to a wide variety of substances. I believe the technical definition is "anything that can be made by combining an acid and a base." Whether something is a salt has little to do with sodium content. ("Salted" licorice, which is common in Sweden and surrounding areas, is made with Ammonium Chloride, for example.)
posted by blenderfish at 11:24 AM on July 24, 2009


KFC is tasty on occasion, but if you want fried chicken (and you're in LA) you have to go to Pann's.

It is, by far, the best damn fried chicken I've ever eaten in my life - and now I have to go hide from my Roscoe's Chicken & Waffle loving friends who are disowning me at this very moment...
posted by Space Kitty at 11:25 AM on July 24, 2009


Does anyone have the secret recipe for removing years of caked on grease from frying? The house I have lived in for 14 years has this immovable, impenetrable layer of grease on the cabinet above the stove since the day we moved in. No amount of scrubbing, 409, Simple Green, or other products will remove this fried shellac!
posted by vespabelle at 12:08 PM on July 24 [+] [!]


http://ask.metafilter.com/80897/Cleaning-grease-off-a-wall
posted by erikgrande at 11:25 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


MSG is a salt in that it's a neutral compound composed of ions.

It's sort of salt-like in that there's definitely a sodium in there. But that one sodium is bonded to an amino acid, glutamic acid, one of our twenty usual amino acids. It is a non-essential amino acid, which means that we make some of it ourselves in our own bodies.

It's not regular salt in that it hasn't any chlorine in it, so one half of the NaCl love is missing.
posted by adipocere at 11:27 AM on July 24, 2009


Interesting, thanks guys.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:36 AM on July 24, 2009


No limb is superfluous if you use it right.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:45 AM on July 24, 2009


So... am I the only person who reads this as the guy in the first link experimenting until it tasted about the same as KFC? Where does the whole "This is the Colonol's recipe!" bit come from?
posted by vernondalhart at 11:47 AM on July 24, 2009


MSG is a salt in that it's a neutral compound composed of ions.

MSG's primary flavor isn't salty though. It's Umami. One of the FIVE flavors, along with salty, bitter, sour and sweet, that you can taste.

Umami as its name suggests was identified in Japan. It means delicious.

(TELL me I never learned anything off of a commercial.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:05 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


vespabelle: You may just try oven cleaner. Be sure to put down plastic garbage bags all around the area where you DON'T want oven cleaner.
posted by parilous at 12:06 PM on July 24, 2009


Oh, and Umami is usually associated with meat. The flavor of meat is Umami.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:06 PM on July 24, 2009


You guys have it all wrong. MSG causes autism, that's why you should avoid it.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:10 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


p.s the "msg causes autism" line was a joke.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:11 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


MSG causes autism, that's why you should avoid it.

Doofus, they stopped using MSG in vaccines *years* ago.
posted by straight at 12:23 PM on July 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Incidentally, Fat Southern Proust is the name of my new band.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:24 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


You know, replacing the bottom panel of a single kitchen cupboard is not hard. Measure, cut to fit, pry apart, replace, touch up edges with paint/stain/varnish/whatever-they-are.

Or, like, adding a second piece of on top. Just say "la-la-la" and pretend that the old grease isn't hidden away in between.

You could even be clever for future ease, and add a perfectly-fit sheet of stainless steel.

And this is why I can't tell AskMe and MeFi apart some days....
posted by rokusan at 12:27 PM on July 24, 2009


Doofus, they stopped using MSG in vaccines *years* ago.

Aha! That explains why I am no longer immune to its greasy charms!
posted by rokusan at 12:27 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


Made this recipe for lunch, veggie style with Safeway's 'Eating Right' veggie chicken strips and soy milk. Pan fried in about a half inch of oil, and lots of small pieces, more of a 'Popcorn chicken' style.

Not bad, but not KFC. The saltiness is completely overpowering, so I'm going to drop the MSG and salt in half next time. All in all tasty, and made even tastier in a dip of Honey Dill sauce.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:09 PM on July 24, 2009


The flavor of meat is Umami

Yeah, I'll speak with umami outside.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:36 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


KFC is tasty on occasion, but if you want fried chicken (and you're in LA) you have to go to Pann's.

They also have incredible biscuits and great old-school waitresses. Pann's is great.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:46 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


NYT on MSG They close with an aside about Doritos containing 5 types of glutamates, which makes me wonder if putting the msg directly in your weed might cut Frito Lay out of the equation completely.

Cite all the studies you want. I get headaches from MSG. If that puts me in league with UFO hostages and 9-11 truthers, so be it.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:14 PM on July 24, 2009


Fun fact, TSP is also a food additive, meats are soaked in it to help them retain moisture.

Fun fact, THBQ is also a food additive. It is also used in varnishes and lacquers.

If you think that MSG made you sick, it might have, but remember there can be a whole lot of other crap in food.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:30 PM on July 24, 2009


Cite all the studies you want. I get headaches from MSG.

It's really interesting this phenomenon, isn't it? I mean, the fierceness with which people will cling to these improbable (though, in this case, not impossible) explanations, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. The real comparison is not, I think, to truthers and ufologists (though there may be some relationship) but to anti-vaxers and, I think, to those people who go on insisting that some criminal "must" be guilty long after the evidence of innocence has become overwhelming. I think the real thing here is that having an explanation, even an erroneous one, is an enormous solace in a world which has hurt us or which frightens us in some way. As someone currently suffering from an undiagnosed ailment myself (I won't go into that, don't worry) I know just how desperate I am to have a diagnosis--even, in a way, if it's bad news--just so I can say "my world makes sense; this is what is causing that."

In the abstract you always expect people to be pleased to be told that they're probably wrong about being allergic to this or that (and something like 75% of people who identify as allergic to certain foodstuffs do not, in fact, react to them when fed them under controlled circumstances), but I do understand the emotional underpinnings of the resistence to the message. After all, if it isn't the MSG that's giving you the headaches (and, I'm sorry, but it's almost certainly not) then you give up the comforting illusion of control over your condition in return for nothing.

If someone figures out what causes autism (or finds a cure for it) the anti-vax crowd will mostly melt overnight. All the arguments that seem so convincing to them now will suddenly appear quite obviously to be a giant shell game of circular logic. But absent some actual explanation, people will cling like limpets to the false ones, because even a patently false explanation is better--for many, many people--than no explanation at all.
posted by yoink at 2:33 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Extra sugar, extra salt. Extra oil and MSG!
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:39 PM on July 24, 2009


I was the one who made the opening negative remark against MSG, and for the record I have no opinion about its health risks or lack thereof, but just that it seemed like such a lazy recipe.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:45 PM on July 24, 2009


On the cabinet grease thing--

Our horrifying, 70's-era TILED AND GROUTED kitchen counters pick up grease like there is no tomorrow, and the only thing that reliably gets it off is Dawn dish soap. I tried every kitchen abrasive and solvent you can think of before happening upon the Dawn thing.

And mind you, this grease-- this is no ordinary grease. It forms clots, membranes, and things I'd almost have to describe as processes. If I weren't so busy being all Lady-Macbeth-of-the-biofilms on it, I'd probably be tempted to use it as a substrate for cell motility experiments.

(And yes, I do think its a biofilm. It may not be made up of bacteria and their oozings, but it absolutely, postively contains an intricately interlocked community of discrete, self-willed microscopic entities. I know this because said entitities sing to me about it in my freaking dreams.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:50 PM on July 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Dammit. The biofilms link was supposed to go here.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:53 PM on July 24, 2009


I've long believed that MSG would cause my heart to race. Ok, now I'm willing to believe that it may not be the culprit. But several times as I was growing up, I'd eat Chinese food and feel like my heart was ready to burst. I was told by people with me that it was due to MSG.

So the question remains: What causes this, and why is it so common in Chinese food? Maybe it's time to start eating cheap take-out and identify the cause.
posted by yath at 2:53 PM on July 24, 2009


What causes this, and why is it so common in Chinese food?

Did you drink a lot of tea with your Chinese food?
posted by yoink at 2:57 PM on July 24, 2009


KFC charges, give or take, $7 per pound for white meat. My local grocery, on a good day, goes down to $2 per pound for split breasts. On a really good day, with the store discount card, it can go as low as $1. My recipe is about 6 months old and still subject to spice tweaking and, no doubt, not the best in the world. But its practical and yields some very tasty chicken.

I fry in a covered cast iron pan with about 1/4 inch of oil. When the oil cools I run it through a coffee filter in a funnel back into the bottle and put it in the fridge.

The breasts I get are just short of a pound and it takes about 28 minutes to fry them. I start with the bone side down and go for 12 minutes. That allows me to adjust the heat if I need to. The natural tendency is to go too hot, so keep an eye on it. Then I turn them and do the meaty side down for another 12 minutes. Then, to finish, I balance them upright against the side of the pan with the heavy side down for 4 or 5 minutes. That browns the thickest part of the breast and drains off a lot of oil.

My basic coating is ½ cup whole wheat flour with 1 tablespoon + a pinch of salt, ½ teaspoon of cornstarch, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and a 2 dashes of black pepper. Shake it up in a plastic produce bag to mix it all up, then throw the chicken in, piece by piece, and shake to coat.
posted by Huplescat at 3:15 PM on July 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Since no one's said this: Never try to use your pressure cooker for pressure frying. Home pressure cookers are not meant to take the heat generated by pressure frying, and at the temperature and pressure that oil is under any failure of a pressure vessel could lead to severe burns and/or fire.
posted by dw at 3:17 PM on July 24, 2009


As for the crust of fried chicken, I use egg instead of milk. Put chicken piece in a bag with the flour and seasonings (for me, black pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and sage), remove and dredge in egg, then put back in bag for another coating of flour. Then I let it rest for a minute (to let the egg finish with the flour) and fry it up.

It's not crispy, but it does hold up better the second day than standard home fried chicken.
posted by dw at 3:25 PM on July 24, 2009


"I've long believed that MSG would cause my heart to race. Ok, now I'm willing to believe that it may not be the culprit. But several times as I was growing up, I'd eat Chinese food and feel like my heart was ready to burst. I was told by people with me that it was due to MSG."

Me, too but maybe not quite as severely as you. And it'd cause my face to be sort of red. Less now that I'm older and, no, I didn't drink tea. I know that an increased heart rate can be an indicator of sensitivity but, I wonder, what was it I was (and still am, a little) sensitive to?

Maybe it was my imagination but, here's the thing: I noticed this before I even knew anything about MSG or that it was used in large-ish amounts in Chinese food. At least at the sodium dens I was eating at. My father used to take me to Chinese food and, alas, I later discovered that he only really liked bad Chinese food.
posted by bz at 3:29 PM on July 24, 2009


I think it's very likely that much of the restaurant food I eat now has lashings of MSG, but I don't seem to have any bad reactions from it.

However (anecdote alert!): about 10 years ago, I used to eat at a little restaurant on Spadina that had the best hot and sour soup in town. After a few years, the overall food quality and the quality of the service declined, but I stubbornly continued to go there for several more months because the soup was still really good.

In my last few visits, even my pleasure in the soup was taken away from me. Within a minute or two of starting to eat it, my head would feel very tight and sore, and sometimes even hot. This happened every time, and I finally stopped eating there. But I haven't had any similar reactions at any restaurant or fast food place since.

While it's possible that this restaurant started using a cheaper, adulterated, mutant MSG or other ingredient which I -- and an unspecified number of other people -- could be sensitive to, I wonder if this wasn't some kind of psychosomatic reaction, with my unconscious yelling, "The hell with this place. The dumplings are pallid and greasy, the rice is crusty, and the waitress took ages to take our order."
posted by maudlin at 4:22 PM on July 24, 2009


Thanks to this thread, I feel like Chicken Tonight (like Chicken Tonight).
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:27 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Umami is usually associated with meat. The flavor of meat is Umami.

Mmmm...steaky!
posted by kirkaracha at 8:19 PM on July 24, 2009


It's really interesting this phenomenon, isn't it? I mean, the fierceness with which people will cling to these improbable (though, in this case, not impossible) explanations, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.

I will state for the record that I have had considerable personal experience that links a large amount of MSG consumed to extremely bad headaches.

I'm not talking the amount in parmesan cheese or even a bunch of mushrooms, I'm talking about the industrial quantities that end up in things like KFC chicken and Bad Chinese Food -- extracted from normal food and amplified to dozens or hundreds of times the amount naturally occurring.

Furthermore, I defy anyone to a challenge: I will submit to a neutrally planned and arranged double-blind test where I may or may not be fed MSG in the approximate quantity consumed when eating a large entree of Jack In the Box fried chicken strips with 2 sides of their "house" dressing.

If I am actually given MSG in that quantity and no headache thereby follows, I will pay the full cost of the test: Proctors, planners, and all, plus $5000 to the individual who takes me up. If I do get a headache, since some of you seem so certain that I'm specious in my connecting high-MSG consumption to my own headaches, you will pay for the test, and then to me the sum of $1000.

If you think I'm making it up, I'll take you at five-to-one odds.
posted by chimaera at 8:25 PM on July 24, 2009


Fried chicken poached in milk? That's such heresy I think I need to lie down. I feel faint. And ill. The cosmic ripples of dozens of generations of my southern grandmothers rolling over in their graves is upsetting my equilibrium.

As peachfuzz said, fried chicken is made by soaking the pieces buttermilk (do the Brits even have buttermilk?), shaking with seasoned flour, and shallow frying in a cast iron skillet slowly and with great care so it cooks through evenly without burning. It gets oil everywhere, it's a pain in the ass, and it's worth it every time. The moist meat, the light, crisp coating. Heaven.

Oh the British, your traditional food is an international joke, why must you bastardize ours? Just stick to making excellent mystery television programs and leave the soul food to us, eh?
posted by mostlymartha at 12:10 AM on July 25, 2009


chimaera--

Would you accept the MSG in pill form, where you wouldn't be able to taste whether or not you'd been provided the MSG?
posted by effugas at 4:13 AM on July 25, 2009


The secret to fried chicken at home is brining the chicken the night before.
posted by ifjuly at 7:16 AM on July 25, 2009


Do's and Dont's of DIY chicken frying (now known as Chickenbombing):

DON'T:
*Be pressured by your Significant Other's need for fried chicken at midnight
*Let your Significant Other throw water in your boiling oil— for any reason. Duh.
*Let the fire sweep up into the fan
*Waste time with a broken fire extinguisher
*Just watch your Significant Other rip the fiery fan from the wall and drop it on the kitchen floor
*Lift your Eames Lounger and Ottoman over your head and run out the door in your PJs, whilst Significant Other is still battling flames

DO:
*Make sure your fire extinguisher WORKS.
*Pray to Baby Jebus
*Get help!
*Go to a bar in said PJs, get drunk, eat chicken fingers, and wait for the smoke to clear.
posted by functionequalsform at 9:09 AM on July 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


I've had good results using a baking soda paste on cupboards with grease deposits.
posted by winna at 12:14 PM on July 25, 2009


Speaking of frying -- a fantastic book about the topic (and other tasty bits of food science) is called How to Read a French Fry. I've tried, in vain, to convince my boyfriend that frying done correctly actually adds very little oil to a finished food. It's all about the correct temperature and technique, and that book has a HUGE number of interesting tidbits that will help you become a better cook, period.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:43 PM on July 25, 2009


My very first paying job was working as a cook at KFC. It was 1979, and I was 16. It paid $2.50 an hour.

On my first day, I received 4 hours of training on how to cook and run the kitchen. I learned that the freezer held big boxes of cut up chicken, and my job was to unbox that chicken and drag it, piece by piece, through flour and seasoning. After that, I was to put it into racks and then into the pressure fryer, where it would fry for some number of minutes, after which a timer would sound. I was then to take it out and put it on racks for the girls in the front to sell. It was not rocket science.

And yet...but I'll get to that in a minute.

On my second day, I arrived at my new job and learned that my manager was taking the day off (his first in a month, I was told), and I would be running the kitchen by myself. As you might guess, It Did Not Go Well.

On my third day, I quit.

In the 30 years since, I have forgotten almost everything about that job, but I do remember this: That temperature light on the KFC pressure fryer? It lights up when the motherfucking thing is warming up to temp, and goes out when it's hot enough to fry chicken, AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
posted by mosk at 2:11 AM on July 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pressure frying is an industrial process requiring special equipment, and there is no point to trying to replicate it at home.

I'll be sure to throw out my consumer-grade pressure fryer, then, as it is clearly a figment of my imagination, as is the KFC clone stuff I've been pressure frying for years using Todd Wilbur's 'Top Secret Recipes' recipe.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:31 PM on July 26, 2009


Serious Eats got Alton Brown to do a video about southern fried chicken as it is prepared in, well, the south at a fried chicken joint.
posted by bz at 5:59 PM on August 4, 2009


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