Blog of an aspiring foodie


Posted by beer_chris on 9-February-2005

I finally did it – I cloned the KFC 'roaster' – and on my first try. I've been a fan of these fast food items ever since I first had them, although I was always slightly confused when I saw the nutrition facts: 670 calories and 38 fat grams! Yikes! And this was supposed to be KFC's healthy entry.

Well, turns out it just looks healthy. There's a reason they don't call it 'roastED' – cause it's fried. In my case, two breasts (filleted into 4 pieces) were fried up in about 3 tbsp of butter, with a splash of vegetable oil to raise the smoke point – and I got the taste just right. I'm guessing KFC uses Crisco or some other type of hydrogenated vegetal oil.

I've been considering attempting a clone for some time now. Finally had an excuse to do it this week.

The key to this half batter, half rub is the spicy sweetness – something I discovered when I first started exploring sauces (who'd have thunk that it's nutmeg that brightens a Bearnaise?), or when I was trying to get that last perfect ingredient to 'fix' my cream of tomatilla soup – extra salt was just making it saltier. No, it took cloves to really open up the bitterness and bring all the flavors together. So, I followed that as my guide and came up with the following (proportions are for 2 chicken breasts filleted into 4-6 pieces)

Roasterish chicken

1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp thyme (dried) be careful with fresh – use less!
1 tsp marjoram (dried) see above warning on fresh!
1'ish tsp paprika (just the generic kind – the expensive smoked Hungarian stuff is too strong for this)
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon (to, um, smell? see instructions)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a pie plate. Take a whiff. Add cinnamon until you can just smell it. Add enough paprika so that it smells earthy. Rebalance the cinnamon if you want to. Press your COMPLETELY DRY fillets into the rub, giving them a good covering. Let them rest for a few. You can also brine the fillets ahead of time if you think you need to. Melt 3 tbsp butter over medium heat in a moderately sized skillet (something that will hold all your fillets). Once it is foaming, add a splash of vegetable oil. Increase heat to medium high and put chicken in. Cook 5 or 6 minutes a side, until nice crust forms. DON'T LET IT BURN!!!!

I started with thyme as my base. I'm loving thyme lately on chicken, mainly because ever since I moved I don't have my fresh rosemary outside my door anymore (sad). I decided on a base of flour to get a crust – just enough – not really even noticeable, but needed something for everything else to stick to. I also added marjoram as a good accompaniment to the thyme. Tarragon was no good – too salady, and I like the mellow spicy aroma of marjoram. I added the onion powder as the base, kind of like a nice beige on a canvas – something for everything else to blend into. I needed something beyond herb tastes though, and decided something with fullness would be needed. I first pulled out the cumin for this and also had the cardamom ready for adding in. Those are full, round flavors, but add too much 'zing' along with it – each would have killed the thyme (not to mention the delicate marjoram flavors). I also thought about turmeric – it's round flavored, but I was worried about the color issues (it is nature's yellow dye), and it smelled so earthy. I liked the earthy smell, but it was too much. I thought some more about it, and decided on the ultimate in mellow, earthy but full flavor – paprika. It is smoky, earthy and almost spicy, but NEVER overwhelms, especially the plain old Food Club kind you can get for .79. I had a great mix with this add, but it still had the aroma of a few different, but well mixed, ingredients. That's when I thought of the sweet spices. Nutmeg would add too much of an earthy edge – I was worried it's bitter sumac overtones would be exacerbated by the paprika. Cloves would be too much – too spicy, would kill the marjoram. Allspice would just kill it all – so I settled on cinnamon. Totally – the – right – decision!

Ate these with mashed new potatoes, roasted elephant garlic, steamed broccoli and a tall cold one (that's really not fair, as DogFish Head Raison D'Etre is really minimized with the moniker 'tall cold one', but it is beer, after all)


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