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Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

MockMuffins and fake-aways

We used to take so much for granted, it shames me to remember. And yet remember, we must.
 
Who could have thought that casual contact with friends, stopping to talk to someone on the street or ducking into a cafe for a coffee and a scone you didn’t need would be whisked away and out of our lives without so much as an, ‘eh, what the f…?’
 
After missing my family and friends (so, so, so, so, so much x 100), the things I feel bereft of the most are the little things I enjoyed and of course, took for granted.
 
Once a week I used to meet a friend for a run on a Saturday. We’d run round the town and talk rubbish and complain and laugh and then at the heel of the hunt, we’d retire to McDonald’s for breakfast. Every week it was the same order for me, an Egg McMuffin and a black coffee and I loved them.
 
I realise of course that with everything else going on in the world my hankerings for fast food breakfasts are as pathetic as trying to burp your way onto the West End stage. But that stomach wants what the stomach wants, right?
 
Whilst I don’t think life will ever return to a normal whereby this greedy bugger takes the small things for granted ever again, whenever the Saturday runs are on again, I’m gonna order two Egg McMuffins and eat them both at the same time. If there’s a band playing, so much the better and I’ll probably play on the iPads too, do a spot of colouring in and walk out afterwards with a balloon in each hand. Until that time comes though, there’s always Egg MockMuffins at home.
 
Herself started making these a couple of weeks ago and to paraphrase Bono (this is a first), they’re even better than the real McThing. Still, I don’t get iPads or balloons at home so the Saturday tradition will return at some point.
 
However, last weekend when I was mid-munch through a MockMuffin that I had a brain-wave: Why don’t I extend the fake-away creations to KFC.
 
Having threatened to make epic home-made chicken goujons (pronounced ‘goo-johns’) for some time, I thus decided to give them the Colonel’s treatment.
 
Herbs and spices assembled (as you can see from the pic you’ll need quite a few), I topped up the oil on the deep fat fryer and by the time the chicken was marinated, dredged and dunked, I was more than pleasantly surprised with the outcome – as was the rest of the clan. Served up with skinny fries and some token garnishes, I dumped my own quota into a wrap with mayo and sriracha and pretended it was a Twister meal. All that was missing from the comprehensive KFC experience was the greasy floor, those entirely inadequate paper plates and a side of a weirdly watery corn-on-the-cob – on a stick.
 
You may notice from the main pic that the chicken looks a little dark. This was because I was a little heavy-handed with the paprika. Next time, I’d only use one tablespoon instead of two. Other than that it was dang-near perfect. Straight out of the fryer with a squirt of mayo and I was faintly aware that I’d hit the jackpot.
 
If you don’t have the majority of the herbs and spices I’ve listed, you can simply used heavily seasoned flour and it’ll still be great.
 
INGREDIENTS FOR GREAT FRIED CHICKEN GOO-JOHNS
500g of chicken breast, cut into strips
1 pint of buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tbsp of paprika
half tsp of all-spice
1 tbsp of soft brown sugar
1 tbsp of salt
1 tbsp of garlic salt
1 tbsp of dried mustard
1 tsp of thyme
2 tbsps of white pepper
1 tbsp of mixed herbs
1 tsp of oregano
2 cups of plain flour
 
THE PLAN
 
Start by cutting up chicken into same-sized strips and place in a large bowl.
 
Mix the buttermilk and egg and whisk to combine. Pour this over the chicken and cover. Let it soak for half an hour while you get everything else, prepped and ready – mise en place, as the cheffy people might say.
 
Add the spices, herbs, seasoning and flour to a large bowl and use a whisk to combine well.
 
When the chicken has had it’s half hour, heat the oil in the deep fat jobbie to 170C and get dredging.
 
Remove a piece of chicken from the butter milk mix, dredge through the spice-flour mix and lay on a floured plate.
 
Repeat until all the chicken is coated and ready to go.
 
Get the oven going on a low heat because unless you’ve got a deep fat jobbie the size of a car, you’ll have to fry the chicken in batches.
 
Laying the chicken carefully into the fryer, I fried my strips four or five at a time for five minutes. After that, they were removed to the oven to wait (and probably crisp up even better) while their brethren were also fried.
 
I also did a dummy run with one chicken strip, frying it for those five minutes and after that time, I cut in half to make sure it was cooked through and it was.
 
All the chicken thus fried, all you have to do is get your chips on the go, if you’re having any and then set everything out in a big bowl surrounded by every condiment in the house and announce, “Dive in everyone!”
 
Then sit back and watch the raised eyebrows and gaspy smiles as your nearest and dearest devour with relish the fried fruits of your labour.
 
Greasy floor optional.

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