Last night, 300 members of the local community gathered at Perez Art Museum Miami to celebrate the launch of Lee Scharger's second cookbook, Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America's Best Fried Chicken & Sides. /em>
Stephen Starr Events took care of the food and catered the event, replicating recipes from the book and numerous sides. Beverage options included the refreshing lemonade, fancy bourbon punch, or sangria. There wasn't a dry or hungry seat in the house.
Everyone in attendance got a signed copy of Fried & True, and for those brave enough to endure the line, Schrager added a personalized note. Schrager even spoke some words, giving thanks to everyone who's been involved in the process, and answering the universal question "why fried chicken?" Turns out the answer is quite simple.
He was at some event or another and he had to go to a corner to eat fried chicken because he was ashamed to be eating it in public and with his hands. It was at that moment when his publisher approached him and told him that he should write a book about fried chicken. Lee's response was "yeah right." He was just getting back into the groove of things after writing his first book, which according to Lee wasn't the easiest process and couldn't even wrap his head around a next book. Somehow though, fried chicken stuck and Schrager, along with his entourage, managed to pull Fried & True together in just a year. His parents, who were in attendance last night, smiled as they watched their boy all grown up celebrate.
It's not an event without Paula Deen. Although she couldn't be there in physical form, she was present in spirit. Well, chicken spirit anyway. Her "best ever Southern fried chicken" is delightful, or at least the rendition we got to taste was, so we can only imagine the original.
In the book, Schrager states "before I met Paula Deen in person, I fell in love with the heavenly fried chicken she served at The Lady & The Sons, her Savannah restaurant." There's a reason a line goes out the door to taste her food, and it's not just because it's Paula Deen, but because it's delicious. You can now make this chicken at home, but as Schrager recommends, use a very small chicken or increase frying time accordingly.
Michelle Bernstein is Miami's culinary sweetheart. Michy's fried chicken and watermelon Greek salad is part of the reason why everyone fell in love with the chef. The dish got its popularity during her summer Wednesdays series, where she served up all-you-can-eat fried chicken buffet-style. And because summers in Miami are wretched hot, her cool watermelon salad with tomatoes and feta is the perfect counterbalance to the bird.
Michael Solomonov is a James Beard Award-winning chef. Chances are you probably haven't had the pleasure of trying his fried chicken though. Now you can make it at home and experience the glory for yourself without having to pay a visit to Federal Donuts in Philadelphia. The secret is in the sauce, which is spicy-sweet and made with Malaysian kecap manis (sweet soy sauce). Good thing Schrager gives away the secret for the sauce in his book.
The chicken & waffles invasion is real and it's happening everywhere in the country. Asha Gomez is doing something real special in Atlanta with her take on the popular dish -- she infuses her maple syrup with spices such as cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes. She also marinates the chicken overnight in puree of buttermilk fused with ginger, cilantro and mint.
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Schnitzel is delicious. Schnitzel that's coated in five types of crunchy seeds and paired with a parsley-caper mayonnaise is worth every calorie. Schrager walks you through the making of the mayonnaise, the schnitzel, and even the flour and panko dredges. The only thing left to do after that is fry the chicken.
Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America's Best Fried Chicken and Sides is out and available for purchase now.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha