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Sep 22, 2016
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WINE WITH…Oven-Fried Chicken and Garlic Rice

We’ve been experimenting recently with avocado oil in the kitchen, which inspired us recently to make a meal that exploits some of its advantages. Since most of the favorable attention avocado oil receives is for its extremely high smoke point, we decided to test that out and make fried chicken. Rather than deep fat frying in a lot of oil we
wanted to see if we could get appealing crispness and good flavor by frying the chicken in the oven using just a few tablespoons of oil.

Another one of avocado oil’s appealing qualities is its delicate buttery/mushroomy flavor, which adds a pleasant, savory taste to salads but is even more flavorful when warm. To take advantage of this attribute we made garlic-rice infused with avocado oil to accompany the chicken.

The result of this culinary experimentation? Well, we certainly are not planning to give up our love of good olive oil, but for some dishes we will be using avocado oil a lot more now. The chicken exceeded our expectations: it was crisp and brown and flavorful, but unlike most fried chicken it wasn’t at all greasy. Garlic-rice, no matter how it’s made, is one of the world’s terrific comfort foods, but we have to admit that the avocado oil took it to yet another level of deliciousness. And because avocado oil has high levels of chlorophyll and carotenoids, it also added an appetizing, pale green color to the rice.

We bathed some shishito peppers in avocado oil and fried them on the stovetop to accompany the chicken and rice; they are an optional add-on to the meal but we’ve included a simple recipe for them here.

Oven-Fried Chicken and Garlic Rice

Serves 2-4

Brining the chicken for a few hours isn’t obligatory, but it does help keep the meat moist. We find that a dry, rather than liquid, brine is an effective and simple way to go.

For the Brine (optional):

2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon white or brown sugar

For the Chicken:

4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
¼ cup all purpose flour
salt and freshly-ground black pepper (if you have brined the chicken, do not include the salt here)
1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons avocado oil (we used CalPure™ but there are plenty of other good brands of avocado oil on the market these days)

Brining the chicken:

If you are going to brine the chicken, blend together the salt and sugar and coat both sides of each chicken thigh with the mixture. Refrigerate the chicken for 2-3 hours. When you are ready to cook it rinse the thighs under running cold water and blot dry.

Preheat the oven to 400°

Blot each thigh dry with paper towels. In a shallow bowl, mix together the flour, salt (if you haven’t brined the chicken), pepper and Parmesan. Roll each thigh around in the mixture, making sure to coat both sides.

Pour the avocado oil into a sturdy, shallow pan (a cast iron skillet is perfect). Add the chicken pieces in a single layer, skin side down. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the pieces over and continue baking for another 15 minutes.

For the Garlic Rice:

2 tablespoons avocado oil
4-6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup medium grain rice
1 ¾ cup water
Salt

Place the oil and garlic in a saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the garlic has begun to soften (do not let it brown). Stir in the rice and continue cooking for few minutes, making sure all the rice is thoroughly coated with oil. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook the rice for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

For the Shisito Peppers (optional):

Toss shishito or Spanish padron peppers in a bowl with 1 tablespoon avocado oil. Heat a sturdy skillet (again, cast iron is good) on the stovetop until it is very hot; then add the peppers. Cook over high heat, tossing them frequently with tongs or a spatula, until they have softened and are charred in spots (this process should take about 10-15 minutes). Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve at once.

* * *

The best part of this dish was the crispy skin of the chicken. Brown and crackly, it was full of deep, rich flavor. Unlike most oven-baked chicken recipes that promise (but fail) to replicate true fried chicken, this one yielded pieces that you’d swear came from a deep fryer. It must have been that avocado oil! The depth of flavor, however, made choosing the right wine a bit tricky. Oak-laden whites clashed with it, as did tannic reds. And light-bodied whites tasted washed out and insubstantial. We concluded that whites work a bit better than reds overall, but that you need to be careful to choose the right one—not too light, not too woody, but a wine with natural body and heft.

Questions or comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com

Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Joseph Drouhin,

Brouilly

Beaujolais (France)

”Domaine de Belleville”

2014

(Imported by Dreyfus Ashby & Co.)

$23

The best match of the three reds we tried, this smooth, supple Beaujolais added an earthy element to the dish, while its appealing texture echoed the rice’s. At least here in the United States, good cru Beaujolais is too often overlooked as a dinner partner. That’s not the case in France, where it’s probably the most popular bistro red. Don’t ignore it.

L’Ecole No. 41

Columbia Valley

(Washington)

Semillon

2015

$16

This wine provided a truly superior match, both because of its flavors and because of its texture. The apple-like flavors proved very appealing alongside the chicken, and the wine’s rich, waxy mouthfeel was irresistible. L’Ecole No. 41 always does well with this varietal. Why other West Coast wineries don’t even try is a mystery.

Edna Valley

Central Coast

(California)
Chardonnay

2014

$15

We thought that Chardonnays would do well with this dish, but some that we tried tasted too heavy and cumbersome, largely because the wood from oak aging weighed them down. This wine, though, was quite lively, with true varietal character and enough body to hold its own. Value-priced, it outperformed a number of costlier renditions.

J. Lohr

Paso Robles

(California)
Grenache Rosé

“Gesture”

2015

$18

With flavors (summer berries and a hint of fresh herbs) that echo rosés from Provence, this wine exhibits a fuller body than its French counterparts. That might make it less appealing as an aperitif on a hot day, but it also makes it able to stand up to a flavorful dish like this one.

Famille Perrin

Côtes du Rhône

(France)

Blanc Réserve

2015

(Imported by

Vineyard Brands)

$13

Much like the Semillon we are recommending, this wine has a broad, almost waxy texture, something that enables it to pair well with many different foods. It’s a tad austere on its own, but shines brightly at the dinner table—which in our view is where most white Rhônes belong.