Friday, October 5, 2007

Our next infusion: Chicken

Chicken infused vodka?

No! Vodka infused chicken.

Greetings one and all, it is I, the "other" scientician. Up until now, Brendan has taken a brunt of the load and written up all of the posts up until this point. In an attempt to even things up a bit, I promised to try and write more of the posts after the relaunch. So expect to hear a bit more from me as well from now on. Anyway, on to the science...

Our idea for this experiment was to take a dozen wings and then marinade them in our habanero infused vodka, in an attempt to transfer some of the flavor of the habanero pepper into the wings, thus giving them a bit more of a kick than our normal wings.

We made two batches of wings, a dozen marinated in vodka for several hours, the other dozen non-marinated for control purposes.

But first, I had to find the habanero vodka in our ever-expanding infusions cabinet.

They say the waiting is the hardest part, but compared to our normal infused vodkae that can take several weeks; marinading the chicken only took a few hours, which seemed relatively short, since we went on to other tasks while they marinaded.

Eventually, the time had arrived and we began to fry the wings. We started with the non-marinaded batch, so as not to risk contaminating the oil. Both batches were dipped in egg wash, then rolled into our Mad Scientician brand chicken batter - flour mixed with seasoning salt and a secret blend of spices. The trick is to balance the heat between the front and back end, with just enough saltiness to give the flavor some depth.

We tasted the non-marinaded wings and had the following reactions:


"The frying process always reduces the heat a great deal. When tasting the batter straight, it has a heavy burn. After cooking the wings, however, they're not nearly as hot. These are a little less hot than I'd like, but do have some heat and just enough saltiness."

My reaction was fairly similar:

"Pretty good. I think we got the batter right on this time... I'll definitely be interested to see how the infused wings turn out."

Since we cooked all the wings before tasting any, the habanero infused vodka infused wings were ready to try immediately after.

Personally, I was not overly impressed, but thought it might get better with a longer marinade time:

"There is a subtle difference here I'm not exactly sure I can put my finger on. It's somewhere in the middle. I thing we might have more success if we let them infuse longer."

Brendan, on the other hand, was not impressed at all:

"Those wings are a little hotter. It's not a large difference, but it's about enough to kick these up to where I like them (when I'm not going all out with the heat). However, there is an odd flavor to the wings, reminiscent of vodka, an effect that I haven't observed with other foods we've marinaded with our infusions. Most of those previous experiments have involved beef, so perhaps the chicken accepts more of the vodka itself, along with the infused flavor."

Later, we theorized that the remaining vodka was probably due to the cooking method. Other foods, such as beef roasts, cook long enough and hot enough that the alcohol evaporates. The wings don't fry for quite as long, so the alcohol may not have had time to evaporate. Not to mention, the fried batter and oil may have trapped the alcohol in the wings.

So I wasn't impressed and my co-scientician felt the marinade detracted from the overall flavor. So, unfortunately, I think we need to call this one a failure.

But, isn't that what science is? Pushing the boundaries to see just what we come up with.


Chrys said...

I've seen some fry-batters that include vodka, becaues it makes the resulting layer of crunchy goodness lighter and more crispy, because the vodka evaporates very quickly when cooked. Tho if the chicken retained a vodka aftertaste, I wonder how accurate that idea is. Hmmm, who would be more reliable, tv cooks or bloging infusionists?

Scott said...

Consider the difference though, vodka in the wings themselves vs vodka in the batter, which is directly exposed to searing hot oil. I think next time try adding the infused vodka to the batter, maybe you'll impart heat and crunchy goodness all at once!

Lucas said...

I'm glad. I had worried thoughts about raw chicken vodka *shudder*.

Anywho, have you guys thought of cooking the wings under the grill or in a pan with the vodka marinade as a sauce rather than deep-frying? It will change the texture, and it might maintain more of the heat you're looking for.

Unknown said...

Yum. Im having visions of the pork ribeye sauce with habanero vodka mixed in!

Unknown said...

I had some amazing peach-habanero jam. I'd love to see you try it as an infusion!