Saturday, September 6, 2014

Inspired by Columbus: Roosters - part 1

Roosters may have started in Dayton and is now in multiple states, but with 10 locations it is the Columbus area that has embraced this "fun, casual joint" the most heartily. I have tried sauced wings all over the city and I will admit to having a bias towards Roosters even before this post.

If you've never been before, Roosters has the feel of a large sports bar.  This means lots of muted TV's, beer signs, and in Roosters case, colorful sayings posted all over the walls.  It often feels busy, and a little loud, but because it has so much seating I have never had to wait for a table.  All the staff work quickly so no matter how busy it is I have never found the service to be lacking.

The sports bar aesthetic continues through the menu  which focuses heavily on wings and other fried foods as well as burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and salads. One thing I like about Roosters is that everything I have had there has been pretty good, though the wings are an obvious standout. The food is also very reasonably priced; I often pay less for a full-service meal here than a trip to a food-truck.

Honestly, besides the wings, I can never decide on which appetizer I want.  Taking a queue from the state fair they have a lot of foods deep-fried for easier consumption like mini corn dogs, fried pickles, mac-and-cheese bites, fried mushrooms, and that's just to name a few. I ordered the mac-and-cheese bites and Isaac always orders the mini corn dogs kids meal so I borrowed them for the picture.  I also got some wings half Carolina gold and half Sweet Thai Chile.  Finally, Lyndsay, who couldn't really handle all the fried goodness ordered the Cobb salad.  As expected everything was excellently prepared, best in it's class without breaking any boundaries.  

How I was Inspired
Part 2 will focus on the wings, but my first, and more interesting idea was to take the concept of deep-frying foods and apply it to something that isn't normally deep-fried. I decided to take traditional Spanish tapas and give it the sports bar treatment by battering and breading it.  After looking at a lot of options I settled on Chorizo stuffed mushrooms, Spanish meatballs, and Manchego cheese.

To make the Spanish meatball I started by soaking some bread in milk until it was soft enough to be beaten into a paste.  Then I added ground beef and pork, parsley, egg, salt and pepper, garlic, and Manchego cheese, mixed thoroughly and rolled it into 3/4" balls (any bigger and they will be too hard to eat in one bite).

To accompany the meatballs I made a sauce with onions, tomatoes, broth, wine, and picada which is a mixture of  finely chopped almonds, minced garlic, saffron, and parsley added after the sauce is finished simmering.

The mushrooms and Manchego cheese were really easy.  I removed the stems from some white mushrooms and then filled them with raw chorizo.  I removed the rind on the cheese and then cut it into small cubes.

I made a thick batter (think pancake batter), put some panko in small bowl, and battered each piece then rolled it in panko.  The most important thing I learned in the process was that the dripping batter quickly made the panko unusable so use small amounts at a time and wipe out the bowl regularly. Also, for the Manchego, freeze them after breading for at least an hour so the cheese is less likely to ooze out.  I fried the pieces in stock pot containing 1 quart of 375 degree oil until they were golden brown as shown above.

You'll notice that only the mushrooms, pictured in the back, look right.  This is because I ran out of panko as a result of the problem I mentioned above.  But, they still tasted pretty darn good, though not as crunchy as the mushrooms, which were amazing.  I topped the mushrooms and Manchego with a drizzle of honey and smoked paprika.

Recipe for deep-fried tapas (serves 6 as an entree or 10 as an appetizer)

  • 2 slices of white bread, torn into quarters
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 8 oz. ground beef
  • 8 oz. ground pork
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 small onion, minced 
  • 1 small tomato, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 tsp. crumbled saffron threads
  • 14 tsp. paprika
  • 9 oz. Manchego cheese, rind cut off, 1 oz. shredded, the rest cubed
  • 12 oz. white mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1/3 lb. uncased chorizo sausage
  • smoked paprika and honey for garnish

Oil, Batter and breading

  • 1 quart vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • water to get it to the desired consistency
  • 4 cups panko
  1. Combine the milk and the bread and let it sit for a few minutes until saturated.  Mash it into a paste and then add the ground meat, shredded cheese, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 Tbsp. minced parsley, salt, pepper, and egg and mix until uniform.  Form the meat into 3/4" meatballs and set aside.
  2. Saute the onion over medium heat until very soft and lightly browned.  Add the tomato and cook for 1 minute.  Add the broth, wine, and bay leaves and simmer until thickened.  Mash together the remaining minced garlic, minced parsley, almonds, saffron, and paprika and stir this into the mixture after it has finished cooking.
  3. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat until it reaches a temperature of 375 degrees. While it is heating, mix the the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and water to make a thick, but still drippy batter.  Put a little bit of panko in shallow pan. Have 2 baking sheets ready.  Dip each cheese cube into the batter with a long skewer and then roll in the panko, adding more panko and cleaning the dish as needed to prevent clumping.  Set each cheese cube on one of the baking sheets and put in the freezer. Repeat with the meatballs and mushrooms, but do not freeze them.  
  4. Once the oil is ready, fry the meatballs in batches first, pulling them out when they they are deep golden brown with a pair of tongs or a skimmer and setting them on a paper towel lined plate.  Repeat with the mushrooms, then finally the semi-frozen cheese.  Check your oil temperature from time-to-time to make sure it is staying hot enough.
  5. Serve the meatballs with the sauce and garnish the meatballs and mushrooms with some honey drizzle and smoked paprika.

Stick with me because next week I will show you how to make Korean-style fried chicken wings, which I would put up against any wing I've ever had.

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