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last night when i came home the inside of my fridge was dark. i thought maybe one of the circuit breakers had flipped off, but i could still hear the fridge running. turns out the golfball-sized light bulb had just burned out. i had a spare bulb, but it wasn't the right wattage (15 watts versus 40 watts). it also wasn't appliance grade, which i figured meant it could survive the harsh cold conditions inside a fridge. i went down to ace hardware today (weather: cold and overcast, occasional drizzle) to pick up a replacement (westinghouse frosted 40w $2.39).

i spent part of the day doing some XML research. i also worked on my brown cow recipe, this time taking a tip from my sister who said to add the root beer in small increments so as to not completely flood and melt the vanilla ice cream. i went with a pulse setting instead of a normal blend. 2 brown cows later and i was still fine. i figured maybe i wasn't lactose intolerant to ice cream after all, but a few hours later, i experienced some mild digestive issues. it seems like the older you get, the more things you can't eat.

in the evening i embarked on my fried chicken adventure. my favorite part of the chicken is the drumstick (it's the perfect food! comes with its own handle!), that's why i bought a plate of them over the weekend, in preparation for their conversion into delicious fried chicken. earlier i'd soaked the drumsticks in a brine solution to trap in the juiciness with some salty flavor. i was reusing the canola oil from my tonkatsu frying 2 weeks ago. it looked clear enough despite a faint off odor, but i figured any foulness would cook off in the 350° heat.

while the canola oil was heating up, i was preparing the chicken. dredged in flour (sprinkled with crushed pepper and a bit of salt) and then through an egg wash, finally tossed in a bag of panko crumbs. the oil was at 350 before i'd even finished with the drumsticks. i dipped 4 pieces into the pot, where they immediately started to bubble and splash around. i saw the panko crumbs turning brown almost immediately.1 oil was starting to splatter when i suddenly noticed the temperature on the fry thermometer was off the chart. i quickly turned off the heat and prepared myself for some sort of oil fire explosion. the drumsticks continued cooking, sizzling in the hot oil like they were dying a painful death. once the temperature climbed down to 300°, i turned on the heat again, maintaining a 330-350° cooking temperature.

by then i'd put on my apron because i didn't want to get oil splashes on my clothes, since it was everywhere else on the stove top. that's what i forgot to get, a splatter guard. the kitchen window and backdoor were also opened for ventilation, and the fan was blowing out the smell. on the surface the drumsticks looked pretty good, but every time i took one out to cut to check the readiness, it was still raw on the inside.

the 4 pieces took a while to cook, close to 20 minutes. at that rate there was no way i was going to be able to cook the remainder, so i put plastic wrap on the rest and put them in the fridge for tomorrow. i finally stopped frying when it looked like the chicken was starting to get burnt. ready or not, they had to come out of the oil bath. with a stick-in thermometer i verified that all the pieces were the proper 170° of doneness.

now for the taste test: the skin was definitely the best part, nothing like you see at KFC, all crispy but at the same time very thin. of course some parts of it was dark and burnt, and those i picked off with my fingers. not sure how crispy it would've been if i used just flour - which is the traditional recipe - instead of flour + panko crumbs. the meat inside was juicy, but not sure if the brine did anything, because there was only a faint salty taste at best, and that could've just been from the skin itself (the brine also wasn't very salty to begin with). all and all, a mild success, but definitely a lot of work, with certain elements of danger, and despite the ventilation, the house smells like a deep fry restaurant.

tomorrow, hopefully i'll get myself a splatter guard, and some fresh canola oil, to fry the rest of the chicken.

tuesday night, a serving of glee followed by justified. i also caught as much of the game as possible, with boston finally defeating miami to advance in the NBA playoffs.


1 the fact that the chicken browned immediately might be evidence that in the past i've been frying at too low a temperature. of course i'm using a different brand of panko crumbs as well (generic market basket panko versus chinatown-purchased authentic japanese panko), so that might be another reason. the fry thermometer definitely helps in figuring out the optimal cooking temperature though. a good investment!