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Fried Chicken, The Flay Way

Good fried chicken is really delicious, but bad fried chicken is a soggy, greasy mess.

So, what makes the difference?

The Early Show resident chef Bobby Flay has the answer, and the perfect recipes Thursday.

This regional dish from the South is great for late summer/fall picnics, and tailgating parties.

Flay uses ancho in his honey. Ancho is dried chili and is the most popular dried chili in Mexico and the United States. It's dried poblano chili, and the smoky-sweet flavor accents numerous dishes.

Flay also uses chili de arbol in his liquid mixture for the fried chicken. The name is Spanish for "small tree," which is exactly what these slender, tapered chilies resemble. In Mexico, you'll also hear them called "bird's beak" or "rat's tail." Small and plenty hot, they can also be dried and used to decorate wreaths. It adds a natural, grassy flavor to dishes. In pod form, the de arbol is often used to flavor oils and vinegars. As a powder, the de arbol is great in soups and chilies. It grows on a lush plant with thick, woody stems, and stays bright red when dried. It's used with the seeds.

RECIPE

Fried Chicken with Ancho-Honey
Serves: 4-6

1 quart buttermilk, plus 2 cups
Kosher salt 2 teaspoons chili de arbol powder or 2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 chickens (3 to 4 pounds), cut up into 8 pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne, freshly ground black pepper, peanut oil, for deep-frying

1. Whisk together 1 quart of the buttermilk, 2 tablespoons salt and the chili de arbol in a large bowl or large baking dish. Add the chicken, turn to coat, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Place the remaining 2 cups of buttermilk in a bowl.
2. Stir together the flour, garlic and onion powders, paprika and cayenne in a large bowl and divide among 2 shallow platters and season generously with salt and pepper.
3. Drain the chicken in a colander and pat it dry. Dredge the pieces a few at a time in the flour mixture and pat off excess, then dip in the buttermilk and allow excess to drain off.
4. Dredge in the second plate of flour and pat off the excess. Put the chicken pieces on a baking rack set over a baking sheet while the oil heats.
5. Pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep cast iron skillet; the oil should not come more than half way up the sides of the pot. Put the pot over medium-high heat and heat the oil to 375 degrees f on a deep-fry thermometer.
6. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces to the hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time and fry, turning the pieces occasionally, until evenly golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a rack to drain; repeat to cook the remaining pieces. Serve hot drizzled with the ancho honey, if desired.

Ancho honey:
1 cup honey
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
salt

Whisk together ingredients in a bowl.

Greek orzo salad with mustard-dill vinaigrette
Serves: 4

3/4 pound orzo, cooked al dente
1 large cucumber, seeded and diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 pint grape (tiny) tomatoes halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh dill for garnish

1. Combine orzo, cucumbers, green onions and tomatoes in a large bowl.
2. Place dill, vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth.
3. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Pour the vinaigrette over the orzo mixture and stir well to combine.
4. Gently fold in the feta cheese. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Toasted pound cake with nutella & strawberries
Serves: 4

1 loaf store bought pound cake
1 jar nutella
1 pint strawberries, thinly sliced

Slice pound cake into 1-inch slices then slice each slice in half. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Toast each slice of pound cake for about 45 seconds per side until golden brown. Remove from the pan and let cool slightly. Spread half of the slices with some of the nutella and top with a few slices of strawberries then top with the remaining slices of cake to make a sandwich.

You can also use prepared lemon curd and fresh raspberries.

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