During my first year of college, I found my way into the home of the wonderful Binns family. I worked as a nanny for the two children, a job description which occasionally included the dinnertime shift. Though this was less than five years ago, the culinary bug had not yet bitten; in fact, basic skills such as cooking rice and scrambling eggs were a great struggle. Several times I was asked to buy a rotisserie chicken at the market – and each time this happened, I absolutely panicked. The idea of carving a bird – even one that had been thoroughly cooked and essentially came ready to eat – seemed extremely daunting. Despite shredded thigh meat and massacres of white meat, the children were very forgiving (though one has since become a vegetarian, and perhaps that is no coincidence).
One of the first things we learned at culinary school was how to butcher a chicken from start to finish. From scorching the feathers off with a blow torch to creating a stock out of the remaining carcass, I have become quite familiarized with every inch of the bird.
There are so many chicken dishes in the world that it’s often hard to tell them apart. Like Tolstoy’s extended character network in Anna Karenina, which introduces different characters with same names and same characters with new nicknames, there is a danger to confusing them all . It’s possible, and even probable, to mistake the good from the bad, the spicy from the bland, the trustworthy from the villainous. The kick of Corona – with plenty of heat from the cayenne and zest from the lime – keeps this dish from banality. And with a big ol’ swig of Corona, my chicken saga ends on a much more pleasant note.
Beer-Battered Chicken Strips
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 cups vegetable oil
6 oz. beer
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 limes, zest of four and juice of one
1 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 lime (juice of)
1/2 tsp cayenne
Pinch of salt, pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut chicken breasts into one inch strips.
2. Whisk beer, flour, salt, and pepper in shallow bowl. Combine lime zest, cayenne, and breadcrumbs in second shallow bowl.
3. Heat vegetable oil in a nonstick frying pan. Dredge each chicken strip first in the batter bowl, then in the breadcrumb bowl. Give each strip about two minutes on each side, until golden brown. Transfer to sheet pan and finish cooking in oven (should take no more than 4 or 5 minutes). You can check to make sure the strips are cooked by cutting into the thickest one and making sure there is no pink inside.
4. Mix mayonnaise, lime juice, cayenne, salt and pepper in a dipping bowl. Serve with chicken strips.
Enjoy beer-battered chicken strips with Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!