Brazen Beer Batter Chicken Fillets With Spinach and Tomatoes Dripping in Cheese

By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

Focaccia bread topped with arugula, tomato and mozzarella, on paper plate

I have never been one for fried foods.  It didn’t matter what it was, just the idea of all that grease would turn me off eating completely.  That changed one saturday afternoon when Danny and I were strolling down a Manhattan street and were perusing the wares for sale at one of the many street fairs one finds during the warmer months.  

There came a smell that was so enticing that I had to find out what type of food it was.  As I followed my nose down the block, it led me to a stand selling, none other than, fish and chips in a newspaper cone.  While in England, I had tried fish and chips and they were nothing like these.  They didn’t smell like fried pieces of fish, but  more like some sort of donut.

So, I tried them and was astonished at how amazing they were.  These delicate fingers of fish were encased in a wonderfully crisp, light layer of dough.  I asked the guy making them how he got the outside to be so wonderful and he told me that the secret was in the beer he used for the batter. This, I found totally intriguing.

When I got home later that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about that delish beer batter.  So I decided to try and make it my self.  Let’s just say that first attempt went horribly wrong.  But I was determined to figure it out and after a few attempts over the next month or so, I finally had it figured out.  Persistence always pays off.  FYI this beer batteries great on fish or chicken!

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Dark Beer
  • 2 Tbs. Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 Tbs. Fresh Thyme, Chopped Fine
  • 3 Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 Pint Grape Tomatoes
  • 2 Cups Arugula
  • 4 Slices Provolone Cheese
  • Vegetable or Peanut Oil
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • Salt

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. If you have a deep fryer, fill 2/3 of the way with oil and start heating the oil.  Otherwise, fill a medium size pot half way with oil.  You want the oil to be deep enough that you can completely submerge your chicken pieces and cook a few at a time.  Start to heat your oil over medium heat.
  3. While your oil is heating up, to a 9″ baking dish add your flour, chopped thyme and Old Bay seasoning.  Mix together with a fork until combined.  Slowly pour your dark beer into the spiced flour.  Mix with your fork until there are no lumps.  Set aside momentarily.
  4. Place a large piece of plastic wrap over your cutting board (about twice the size of your cutting board.)  Place a chicken breast onto the center of your cutting board.  Bring the extra plastic wrap up over the chicken breast and smooth down with your hand.  Take a kitchen mallet or rolling pin and pound your chicken breast until it is about half its original thickness.  Repeat this process with all 3 of your chicken breasts.
  5. Once you have pounded out your chicken breasts, cut each one in half so that you have 6 pieces total.
  6. By this time, your oil should be hot enough for frying.  Cooking Tip: To test your oil before frying, simply take a pinch of flour and drop it into the oil.  If hot enough, you will see oil bubbling around the pinch of flour.  If you don’t, then the oil isn’t hot enough for frying.
  7. Gently stir your beer batter.  Make sure that your baking dish with batter is fairly close to the stove top or deep fryer.  Dredge your piece of chicken through your batter, making sure to coat both sides well.  Once dredged, hold your piece of chicken over the batter until it stops dripping and then slowly drop it into your hot oil.  You should be able cook 2-3 pieces at a time, depending on the size of your cooking vessel.
  8. Fry your chicken pieces for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown.  You may need to flip them over to ensure even cooking.  Again, that depends on the size and depth of your cooking vessel.  It’s usually shallower pots / pans that require flipping.  Once your chicken is cooked, remove and place on a plate lined with 3-4 paper towels.
  9. While your chicken is frying, cut your grape tomatoes in half, length wise.  Set aside momentarily.
  10. When all of your chicken is cooked and has had time to drain excess grease, line them up on a greased baking sheet.  To each piece of chicken, add a few pieces of arugula, then top with 4-6 tomato halves.  Take your provolone slices and tear into pieces.  Place 1-2 pieces on top of each piece of chicken. Add a sprinkle of salt and cracked black pepper to each.
  11. Bake on the center rack of your preheated oven for about 3 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted.  Remove from the oven.
  12. Serve with your favorite potato or rice side and vegetables.  Enjoy!
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