Culinary Arts Project

Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Broccoli Rabe and a mighty fine lookin’ line – Day 47


  • Buttermilk is a magic ingredient imho – use it in dredging fried chicken or smelts: buttermilk slightly tenderizes the protein, coats better, and adds a light acidic element.
  • Use buttermilk (or sour cream) in puréed potatoes – it makes them pop.
  • Add cheese rinds when boiling your polenta for added flavor – you can take them out before service.

Fried chicken is always a hit, so much so today that we ran out before we fed ourselves – though the few tidbits I managed to savor tasted mighty fine.

Joanne and Chef Ben ponder the tilt skillet
Joanne and Chef Ben ponder the tilt skillet
Megan, Joanne and Gerardo using the '6 pan system'
Megan, Joanne and Gerardo using the ‘6 pan system’

Today’s fried chicken used one of my fave ingredients – buttermilk. We were riffing of Thomas Keller’s recipe – and Joanne was in charge: dredge brined chicken in flour (seasoned with garlic & onion powder, parika, cayenne, s&p), then in buttermilk, and then in the flour again. You then let the chicken sit for an hour so that the coating sets, this will result in a much crispier fry. Then a quick fry (14min for dark meat, 10min for white), and season with salt. It was delicious. Several classes that had already been sent food, tried to sneak into the line to get some more. Joe put an end to that!

Serving up some rapini
Serving up some rapini on a mighty fine lookin’ line
Alton preparing rapini for service
Alton preparing broccoli rabe for service

Alton and I were on the less glamorous Broccoli Rabe. When we were prepping this yesterday, I had no idea this was what-most-of-the-world-knows as ‘rapini’, so I was all nervous about cooking it…..but rapini?….that’s pretty much a staple in Canada. We got the thumbs up on it today from both classmates and chefs so our approach must have worked pretty well. We heated a 50/50 mix of Canola and olive oil. Threw in crushed garlic and pepper flakes till the garlic started to brown, and then took the garlic out. (If you leave the garlic in it often eventually burns, and you don’t want that taste anywhere near your food). Then in goes the rapini, for 2mins, then out to drain, where it was seasoned with salt, lemon zest, grated parmesan and a sprinkle of lemon juice. The lemon juice and short cooking time counteract the potential bitterness. Placed beside a roasted-tomato-topped polenta, oven-roasted chayote, salads, and fried chicken – the line looked amazing.

Prepping chicken for tomorrow
Prepping chicken for tomorrow
Nina stirring the polenta
Nina stirring the polenta

The chicken breading station was using the ‘6 pan method’. This means each station has a back pan and a front pan: 2 pans for the flour, 2 pans for the buttermilk (or eggs often), and 2 more pans for the flour (or breadcrumbs often). You use the front set of pans to do your breading, and as soon as things get ‘clumpy’ empty your bin and refill from your back pan. This accomplishes several things: Most importantly, by never dredging in the ‘clumps’ you get a much better coating which coats and fries evenly. You also save on ingredients, and you can have your milk/egg safely on ice in your back bin. Also: always use only one hand for wet, one hand for dry.

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