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Posts Tagged ‘Fried Chicken’

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review, St. Louis, MO

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Hodaks Restaurant and Bar ReviewGeez, I can count on about three fingers the times I have not been disappointed when I’ve tried a restaurant that is a perennial favorite in a given city. If it’s won “the best of” multiple times, for some reason, it won’t strike me the same way.

Much to my delight, Hodaks does not fall into that black hole, despite being voted “St. Louis Best Fried Chicken 25 Years in a Row.” I agree.

I was out looking for restaurants on the “Mother Road,” or at least the remnants of same, Route 66, the old main highway that ran from Chicago to St. Louis. In my neck of the woods, I’d had the pleasure of dining at several establishments on the Route, including Lou Mitchells, in downtown Chicago at the beginning of 66 (exceeded expectations), Del Rhea’s Chicken Basket, (meh, thanks for playing), Cozy Dog and Charlie Parkers, Springfield, IL, the Country Cup, a couple places in El Reno, OK, birthplace of the Onion Burger, the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff…..and others.

Ordinarily, fried chicken isn’t something I’d go out of my way for, tho I am fond of quality preparations. It wouldn’t be in my top 10 of things to order at a restaurant.

But here we are/were,  and it’s on Route 66, been around forever, so why not.  And besides, I needed a “good” St. Louis experience to make up for my last time there, trapped by a master con woman for three days initially, then sucker punched into spending 7 years together.

Hodaks was busy, it was Saturday lunch time, holiday weekend, but not so busy we couldn’t be seated straight away. I understand there are times when there is a substantial wait for a table.

Started with the traditional St. Louis appetizer, fried ravioli, deep-fried pasta pockets stuffed with meat and accompanied by a marinara dipping sauce.  My initial thought of just having a couple bites vanished….and did the entire plateful.  Oops.

Onto fried chicken, my choice, a pounded breast, with mashed, gravy, beans, slaw. Superb.  I mean it, superb in every aspect.

Would I go again?  You wouldn’t be able to stop me if I was passing through town. St Louis in the future will be forever two things to me, Hodak’s Chicken and Imo’s Pizza.

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Fried Ravioli

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Chicken fried chicken

Hodaks full menu.  They welcome your bulk order for events or catering, too.

Hodak's Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

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KFC Georgia and Nashville Chicken Review – Nationwide

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KFC Georgia Gold and Nashville Hot ReviewI’ve always been impressed at the vertical/horizontal menu expansions at Yum Brands restaurants (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC). Yum (formerly Trincon) was born in 1997 as a spin-off from Pepsi, who previously operated these businesses as the Pepsi fast food division.

They’ve flirted with expansion, acquiring and spinning Long John Silvers / A&W, and with start-ups (Super Chix, designed to compete with Chik-Fil-A) (since spun to founder).

But in the end, they are focusing on their core brands and international expansion. (KFC is in 125 countries, Pizza Hut in 100).

My reference in the opening sentence was particularly unique originally to Taco Bell. They take the same basic 6-8 ingredients, present it in different “shapes,” invent a “Mexican-ized” name for it, and push it thru the sales chain. I used to joke that I thought you should be able to order by shape at Taco Bell. “I’ll have the tube,” or “octagon,” or whatever.

Pizza Hut started to catch on with different types of crusts (thickness, flavored-sprayed, stuffed).

But KFC, for the most part, has either not gotten the corporate memo on the concept, or ignored it. Their in-house innovation has largely been limited to “Original,” and “Extra Crispy” but adding tenders, nuggets and sandwiches, but that’s about it.

But now KFC  may have discovered the key to the concept by adding ‘flavored’ chicken, like their current offerings of “Georgia Gold” (a honey-mustard flavored bird) or “Nashville Hot” (a hot sauce/peppery exterior).

I have no direct, inside knowledge, but it appears to me, having ordered both, that the flavorings are added post cooking, sprayed or tossed. I came to this conclusion by observing the pools of flavoring sauce in the bottoms of my serving containers. (I suspect also that’s not standard protocol – see pic below).

The “Georgia Gold” is meant to be KFC’s interpretation of the primary BBQ flavor of the SE United States, which heavily employs a mustard based sauce for BBQing, in lieu of the “red sauce” found in many parts of the US. The “honey” part is KFC’s addition.

The “Nashville Hot” is the company’s interpretation of a dish created in the Tennessee city, and anecdotally dates back to the 1930s, but generally its current popularity is attributed to a local business, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, which put the dish on the menu as early as the 1940’s. The Nashville version involves marinating the chicken first, then once cooked (fried or roasted), the pieces are bathed in a paste heavily laden with cayenne.

Pieces of the bird are served on white bread with dill pickle slices on the side. KFC passed on this part, giving you a choice of their usual sides and tossing in a biscuit. Three tenders, a side, a biscuit, a little north of five bucks.

I enjoyed them both, in the tenders version. The Georgia Gold was a tad to sweet for my taste, and therefore the mustard part isn’t all that evident. I would have preferred the reverse.

The Nashville is “hot” probably one of the hottest fast food offerings, and I’m generally a wimp about heat, but this didn’t bother me. Since both dishes rely on human interaction at the finishing stage, I can see where one limitation might be that some pieces would get either too little or too much of the flavoring (thus the pool of hot sauce in my tray).

But the brilliance of this is allowing KFC to run with the multiple offerings like Taco Bell employs, variations on same ingredients. I can see where KFC might try LTOs with varying flavors (BBQ, ranch, dill, whatever), or at least doing it with an eye (taste bud) towards regional tastes (A “California” style, for example). Siracha and Chipotle can’t be far behind.

I don’t know how long Georgia and Nashville are going to be around, but since they share a label on the packaging, they are likely to both vanish at the same time.

I’d buy them both again, but favor the Nashville. Flavorings are available on full sized chicken pieces, tenders or littles (sandwiches).

As evidence of the company’s international dependency for growth, there are over 5,000 KFC outlets in China, and about 2,000 Pizza Huts. I personally witnessed the openings of both chains there, and the immediate success they had with Chinese consumers.

KFC Georgia Gold and Nashville Hot Review

KFC Georgia Gold and Nashville Hot Review

Top – Gold, Bottom – Nashville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KFC Georgia and Nashville Chicken Review

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Miss Dots Chicken Review, Tuscaloosa, AL

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Miss Dots Chicken ReviewI’ll wander off the beaten path to try a place I’ve heard about it. It’s a crap shoot.

But for a couple years I’ve been infatuated with “sourthern style” fried chicken, and did a fast food  comparison tour across the south for chicken tenders, and I’ve written a number of pieces on gas station chicken.

Which I like. ALOT.

Miss Dots has a rep, very basic menu, of fried chicken, whole, pieces, or bits. I went for bits. They call them “bites.”  “Plates” were $9 and up and came with a side and a roll.  I went with the “bites” and mac/cheese.

The place was immaculate, sparkling clean. Employees were newish and not very knowledgeable about the product or even the POS system. Orders were taken, food was prepared, brought to the table. Pretty fast, actually, surprised me.

It’s a lighter breading, not much cornmeal, not seasoned, or lightly seasoned. The chicken was juicy and piping hot in its little breading overcoat. The mac/cheese was lifeless, dry, no particular flavor, could just as easily have been from a box.  The same verdict for the roll. Nothing special. Sysco or a local grocer.

So yeah, it’s good, but for me, not worth an extra drive or the price.  I was also under the impression this was a really old establishment (not sure why I thought that), but it’s not, it’s nearly a start-up. Additional location in Birmingham.

Miss Dots Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Miss Dots Chicken Review

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Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review – Route 66 Illinois

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Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review – on old Route 66, Chicago

Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review

Historical Marker

Based on my personal consumption, I’m  thinking their slogan should be “come for the biscuits, stay for the chicken.”

One of the original highways across America, Route 66 ran from downtown Chicago to the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica, CA, a total of nearly 2500 miles.

It’s also been referred to as “America’s Main Street,” and the “Mother Road.” The highway was instrumental in boosting America’s migration to the west by automobile, and was full of interesting tourist stops, eateries and motels with creative architecture. I’ve written about some of the eateries in the past, including the Maid Rite and Cozy Dog in Springfield, IL, the onion burger establishments in El Reno, OK, Country Cup diner in Countryside, IL, and the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff, to name a few.

I love driving Route 66, the trip evokes memories of a simpler time. I think it’s officially my own personal “happy place.”

The Chicken Basket grew out of a gas station lunch counter in the 30s or 40s, and opened in its present form in 1946. They are famous for – what else – chicken – and they offer it in a bunch of different forms, including a weekend lunch AYCE buffet.

The servers are very friendly and chatty, and the knotty pine room is adorned with Route 66 memorabilia. A basket of fresh baked biscuits is presented when you’re seated, and they were delicious, reminiscent to me of “Boy Scout dutch oven Bisquick drop biscuits” except these were perfect, not burned or half baked balls of dough that we used to have in scouts.

I started with an order of onion rings, large slices of sweet Vidalia’s in a crispy corn meal coating. It’s a large serving, adequate to share between two or more people.

We ordered a couple of meals, the chicken fried chicken, a boneless breast, which comes with fries, gravy, and corn “pudding.”

The menu cautions that it’s up to a 30 minute wait for the chicken, as it is all fried to order. The chicken breast was crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, with the breading having some nice crunch. In the chicken dinner, the coating was considerably different, much lighter and less substantial, and I’m going to venture an uneducated guess that while the boneless breast was actually deep fried, it seemed like the chicken dinner was prepared more like ‘broasting,” a distinctly Midwestern thing, a deep-fry with less oil that also involves a pressure cooker. Maybe, maybe not.

In any case, unlike many legendary eateries, the Chicken basket exceeds its hype, the food is really great. Two dinners, one appetizer, two beverages and tip, $47.00.

Full menu is online if you want to ponder your choices prior to arrival.

If you’ve never driven Route 66, put it on your bucket list, even if you have the time only to do segments in one or two states. In addition to Illinois, the road crossed Missouri, a smidgen of Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and into California. It’s a very popular trip with foreign tourists, as well, and there are even “Route 66 Associations” across the globe.

 

 

Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review

Chicken Fried Chicken Dinner

 

Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review

Fried Chicken Breast

Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Dell Rheas Chicken Basket Review

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Pizza Ranch Buffet Review

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Pizza Ranch Buffet ReviewI wonder if they thought of the name “Chicken Ranch” but had to discard it due to an unsavory association with a Nevada business of the same name? The only reason I am wondering about this is while the pizza is good at Pizza Ranch, the fried chicken is the star of the show. In fact, their “sub slogan” is “the best chicken in the country.”

Now I’ve had fried chicken in every corner of the USA, including in small town, backwater soul food kitchens in the deep south, seemingly at the heart of fried chicken country. I’ve had fried chicken made by a 100 year old woman who’s been cooking chicken in the same single cast iron skillet for her four table restaurant for decades. If Pizza Ranch doesn’t make the best fried chicken in the country, I don’t know who does. It’s certainly the best I’ve ever had.

Pizza Ranch started in small town Iowa and has grown to nearly 200 locations in a dozen states. It is a set price buffet restaurant, with pizza, fried chicken, mashed potatoes/gravy, potato wedges, vegetables, a salad and dessert bar.

I visited the outpost in Wisconsin Dells, and service, food, presentation and cleanliness were all over the top. The experience far exceeded my expectations.

The price seems to vary somewhat from restaurant to restaurant, but it is generally in the range of $7-$10, less for kids, sometimes there are two fer coupons, and some locations include a beverage, some charge extra. One nice note on the hospitality scale, when you pay (on your way in), they ask you what your favorite pizza toppings are, and they rush to make it, deliver the first hot slices to you, and place the pie on the buffet….which, incidentally, presents 12-16 pizzas at a time and is constantly refreshed. So different than some pizza buffets I have been to, like Cici’s, Shakey’s or Round Table.

The pizza is clearly levels above Pizza Hut, Dominos, Little Caesars, Papa Johns and the like. In many ways, it reminds me of the way Godfather’s prepares theit pies, a little thicker crust, a sauce that leans towards sweet and ample cheese, nicely melted.

But as you might have guessed, I buried myself in fried chicken. Hot, crispy, nice breading, very juicy birds, and amply sized. They are certainly not buying diminutive chickens like Popeye’s and KFC.

Pizza Ranch is worth a stop, especially for families. I’d go again. Here are their locations, menus. and a further description of the buffet.

They also deliver, and have a drive through.

No alcohol, BTW.

Pizza Ranch Buffet Review

Fried Chicken and a Slice

 

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White Castle Crispy Jalapeno Chicken Review

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The last time I was in this particular White Castle was a day / night I made a major fundamental mistake – and I’m not talking about dining at White Castle, which is always a delight.  No, the last time through this outlet was the day Mrs. Burgerdogboy proposed we get married (after consuming 12 or 15 ounces of vodka).  It was a harbinger of things to come, and  I walked right past the giant flashing billboard with blinders on.

But hey, what fun would life be if one didn’t make critical mistakes every once and awhile?

But back to White Castle.

If there are two things that I would ordinarily eschew at any restaurant, it would be fried chicken patties, and anything that uses the name of a pepper in its description –  be it jalapeno, siracha, chipotle or ghost.  Very few chefs or menu planners no how to use peppers correctly, as a subtle undertone in a dish, and not as the primary flavor.  IMHO.

Once upon a time, decades ago, there was a fast food chicken sandwich I liked at #Hardees.  It was real chicken protein muscle, ample in size and doused with black pepper.  But these days, I am more apt to go for ‘fingers’ as evidenced by last year’s smackdown on ‘chicken fingers of the south.’

But back to White Castle.  A friend insisted we try the jalapeno chicken sliders, and so we did, and I have to say, they weren’t all that bad.   I did wonder if one would be able to tell the difference between the chicken and fish sliders, but wasn’t curious enough to conduct that test.   Would I order them sometime?  Surprisingly (to me) yes, I would.

Big kudos, too, to the Castle for having one of the most comprehensive selections of condiments around, in ample sized quantities. Above and beyond.

To read about White Castle’s origins, take a spin here.

You know what’s really funny?   As I was writing this, it occurred to me how much White Castle and Mrs Burgerdogboy have in common.  They’re both really cheap and easy, and are much more palatable when  drunk.

White Castle Chicken Slider Review

White Castle Chicken Slider

 

White Castle Chicken Slider Review

Condiment Selection

 

White Castle Chicken Slider Review

Condiment Selection

 
White Castle on Urbanspoon
White Castle Crispy Jalapeno Chicken Review

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Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

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Mrs. Burgerdogboy asked me to take a whack at fried chicken; usually we’d head to that chain the late New Orleanian Al Copeland created – Popeye’s, but it was one of those (one?) gloomy Portland days and we were resolved to (mostly) not leave the bedroom.

So here’s my concocted recipe, which turned out real well, by all accounts.

Ingredients

  • 8  Chicken pieces of  your choice with bones-in, skin removed (if that’s your preference)
  • 1/2 C half and half creamer
  • 1 C Zatarain’s Spicy Fish Fri
  • 1 C Panko
  • 2 T Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 T Garlic powder
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 T paprika
  • Peanut oil or lard

Instructions

Combine dry ingredients in plastic bag. Wash chicken thorough, pat dry and dip in half and half, let excess liquid run off.  Toss the chicken vigorously in the plastic bag with the dry ingredients.

Fry, bone side down, in a cast iron skillet for 15 minutes.  Flip chicken once and fry for another 15 minutes.  Remove chicken from fry pan, place on baking sheet, and finish in oven at 350 for 20 minutes.

Crispy outside, juicy, flavorful meat inside.   “Louisiana fast!”

Fried chicken recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

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Sweet and Savory Fried Chicken Recipe

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As you can probably surmise, I’m always screwing around in the kitchen, looking for a different way to do prepare something.  Today I stumbled onto a method that I think is good enough to share.

Someone gave me a canister of “honey wheat” pretzels, which ordinarily I wouldn’t think of buying or consuming, I generally like my sweet and savory flavors to keep their distance from each other.  I sampled a couple, they weren’t that bad, nor that sweet, and I was getting ready to make some fried chicken when the proverbial light bulb went off – why not use the pretzels as fried chicken coating?  So I did, and the results were delightful.

Here’s the dope:

  • 1 C pulsed fine honey wheat pretzels
  • 1 T Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning
  • 1 C  plain flour
  • 2  eggs beaten
  • 2 C your preferred frying oil
  • Chicken parts of your choosing

Pour the plain flour onto a plate

Beat the eggs and pour onto a plate

Combine the pretzel flour and creole seasoning in a plastic bag

Dredge the chicken pieces in flour, dredge in the egg was, and toss into the bag that has the pretzel mix.  Shake vigorously.

Bring the oil to frying temp in a deep pan, and place the chicken pieces in to fry.  Turn frequently and cook to your preferred temp.

I cooked legs and wings about 12 minutes and boneless breasts about 18, which is a little longer than most recipes suggest, but the thick coating keeps the meat moist, even with these cooking times.

Remove from heat, let cool on a rack for ten minutes prior to consuming.

I really enjoyed this ‘mistake’,  the coating was not to thick, not to thin, there was a hint of sweetness from the honey pretzels, and a little salty kick from the Creole seasoning.  Give it a try!

Fried Chicken Recipe

Fried Chicken Recipe

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Nationwide – Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen

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Mrs. Burgerdogboy do love her Popeye’e, especially a side of red beans, and I’m always happy to oblige her, as she’s taught me the whole “happy wife, happy life” thing, and it’s 100% on target.

So whenever I roll past a Popeye’s, or am pointed in that direction by my better two-thirds, off I go, and grab her a 2 or 3 piece combo, with an extra large side of red beans.

As for me, I’m a fingers or tenders guy (did you see my profile of tenders of the South?), and I wanted to try Popeye’s new “Wicked Chicken”  Garlic/Pepper Wicked Chicken with Garlic Parmesan Dipping Sauce.

Correct me, but don’t I recall that when Wicked Chicken first arrived, it was a breast cut to look like fingers on a hand?  Or was that an acid flashback?

In any case, the Garlic Pepper variety are small strips, with highly seasoned batter, crispy, the pepper was detectable, but for me, the garlic wasn’t all that present.  Understandable, as I consume about 1/4 of the annual California garlic crop on my own each year, so maybe I’m not all that sensitive to it any more.

Anyway, it’s good, it’s a LTO, and it’s pretty cheap as fast-food chicken offerings go.  I’d get it again.

It amuses me to no end that Popeye’s tv commercials use the tag line “Louisiana Fast”.  If you’ve ever lived in Louisiana, it probably amuses you, too.

Oh, and speaking of fried fast food?   One of the biggest European hamburger chains is called “Quick” and I love their little fish bites. (Pictured)

Quick Fish BItes

Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Wendy’s New Spicy Guacamole Chicken Club

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Wendy's Spicy Guacamole Chicken Club SandwichThe fine folks at Wendy’s contacted me and asked me to try out their new Spicy Guacamole Chicken Club sandwich, and furnished me with the means to do that.

They describe their newest sandwich as  “Made with a seasoned spicy chicken breast, authentic guacamole, crisp Applewood smoked bacon and pepper jack cheese.”

Chicken is rarely on my fast food radar, and a chicken sandwich even less often,  so I was game for the experience.

Wendy’s has been on a tear lately, with a top to bottom updating, examining their menu, adding new items, building prototype new outlets, and taking a hard look at their staffing as well, and so far, they get a A+ for the effort.

Customers have lauded and rewarded the efforts, as it was recently announced Wendy’s passed BK to become America’s second largest fast food chain.

I was more than happy with the sandwich.   The bun was bakery soft, the guac ultra fresh, with just a little bit of kick, and the chicken filet nicely fried with a crispy coating with a slight bit of black pepper accent.

Don’t be mislead by the term “spicy” in the description.  Some chicken chains use of the word (and accompanying spices) turns out a blazin’ hot (to my palate) piece of bird, but Wendy’s has built a sandwich designed to appeal to the masses – so you can take the word “spicy” in this instance to mean “flavorful.”

I went with the combo, and for my money, Wendy’s “new” sea salt natural cut fries continue to be one of the best offerings in the fast food side segment. Their applewood smoked bacon, available on a variety of offerings, continues to be some of the best in the biz, as well.

Recommended.

Wendy's on Urbanspoon

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