The mark of good fried chicken, it has been said, is whether or not it is still good when eaten cold the next day. But then what? My cravings kept leaning towards cheesy fried chicken sandwiches with Latin twists, like spicy Hatch chile and chicharron crusts. It’s a staple now, a chicken dish I am happy to add to my repertoire of Latin dishes. So for a recent family outing I put to the test this new fried chicken recipe. It is standard in a lot of ways until you bite into it and your taste buds are greeted with soft Oaxaca Cheese and all the spices of beef chorizo. I used Cacique Oaxaca Cheese because of its savory, mellow yet buttery flavor. Oaxaca cheese melts when heated but doesn’t entirely disintegrate, and that’s what makes it a great stuffing cheese. The Cacique Beef Chorizo is robust, earthy and full of those traditional Mexican spices that remind me of Mom cooking chorizo con huevos for breakfast. Comfort at its best.
I had to take this chicken on a test drive, so me and my little familia and headed towards our Downtown Los Angeles wilderness: Griffith Park. The place is huge, more than we could experience in one day, but I had my picnic basket full of snacks, goodies, treats…and my Cacique Stuffed Fried Chicken. To be fair, when we ate the chicken it wasn’t exactly “cold,” but it survived the fridge overnight and the cooler. Still bursting will flavor and tender, thanks to the buttermilk marinade.
So had our chance to explore Griffith Park. The mini-train ride for $2.50 through overgrown pompous grass, with shadowy birds chirping from unseen perches. They have a strict no-pet policy which left Chubby & Chops relieved.
It was my first time at the old grand carousel and it seemed like a mirage to me, emerging from the verdant green hill it was hidden behind. I instantly started skipping, nay, galloping towards it, and let me tell you, I don’t usually gallop anywhere. The familiar music softly playing, as the ornate steeds speed past, some with intricately cast manes or saddles. The nostalgia hung thick in the air, but our picnic was calling and there was still so much to see and do: the pony rides, the train museum and of course the Los Angeles Zoo. Clearly we needed more time because, even in summer, they close early. But it left us with plenty of daylight and time to enjoy our picnic on lush green grass, which is rarer everyday here in Los Angeles. Our dogs, Chubby & Porky, sure appreciated running and rolling on the soft grass.
I packed the fried chicken and soft telera rolls so I could make sandwiches. Stephen opted for mayo, while I spackled on the mustard. I brought along some coleslaw, cheese, crackers, fruit and some iced tea to wash it all down. It would have been great with a lemonade or agua fresca. With at least 3 hours of daylight remaining we took our time on the soft grass, emptying the picnic basket of all its treasures. I lay there, with a full pansa, planning my next picnic.
CACIQUE STUFFED FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH
Yield: serve 4
Prep time: 4 hours
Cooking time: 15-25 minutes
½ pint buttermilk, or enough to cover the chicken to marinate
3 tablespoons hot sauce
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
1 9 ounce package Cacique Beef Chorizo, cooked, drained
1 10 ounce package Cacique Oaxaca Cheese, cut into 2-3 ounce pieces
2 teaspoons chili powder
8 ounces panko
Oil for frying
4 telera rolls, or bollios
1. To marinate your chicken: in medium sized pot combine the buttermilk, hot sauce and chicken. Cover and allow to marinate for 4 hours or overnight in your refrigerator.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit or pocket in the thickest part of the chicken breasts.
3. Stuff the chicken with about 2-3 ounces each and spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of the cooked chorizo inside the chicken.
4. Begin to heat the oil for frying at 360°F. Use a heavy, deep cast iron or Dutch oven for beast results.
5. While carefully holding the chicken breast closed, place the chicken into the panko. Gently press the bread crumbs on the chicken, making sure the entire chicken is covered. (You can season your panko with salt, pepper, chili powder or any ground spice or herb you like.)
6. When the oil is ready, carefully place the panko covered chicken into the hot oil. Depending on the size of your pot you may have to cook the chicken in batches.
7. Allow the chicken to cook on one side until nicely browned, about 7 minutes. Gently flip the chicken over so that the other side can brown and finish cooking, about 5 minutes. Allow it to drain on a raised wire rack.
8. Optional: depending on the thickness of your chicken, you may need to fry it a few minutes longer or place it in a 350°F oven until done. My first batch had really thick chicken breast so it took an additional 10 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Once it reaches 165°F internally it is done.
9. To serve: eat it as is or dress up your fried chicken with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and some coleslaw on fresh telera rolls.
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