Cook the Book: Taco-Fried Chicken

The writer Calvin Trillin, a longtime patron of the original Shopsin's on Bedford Street in New York City, once took Kenny Shopsin to the bar in Buffalo, New York, where Buffalo wings were invented. The sauce there was a straightforward mix of equal parts Frank's Hot Sauce and melted butter. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Today, Kenny's son Zack, who is a cook at Shopsin's, regularly prepares Taco-Fried Chicken, which is paired with the same fiery sauce. The dish is a great example of Kenny's whimsical cooking style—inspired by a particular ingredient or product, he will use it in creative, somewhat ridiculous ways. Says Kenny of Mexican food, "The kind of Mexican food I like is ... based on a foolproof combination of melted cheese, spicy peppers, and greasy red meat."

While this dish is made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and there is no melted cheese involved, it certainly falls under the categories of greasy and spicy. The chicken breasts are coated in a mixture of eggs, cream, and crushed tortilla chips, and then deep-fried. Before serving, Spicy Buffalo Wing Sauce is "dumped" over them. It's like fusion, with a pinch of humor and a dash of the absurd.

Cook the Book: Taco-Fried Chicken

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Ingredients

  • Peanut oil for deep-frying
  • All-purpose flour for dredging
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream or milk or water
  • 1 to 2 cups crushed tortilla chips
  • Four 5- to 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper

Procedures

  1. 1

    Preheat a deep-fryer or a large potful of peanut oil over high heat to 375°F.

  2. 2

    Put the flour in a bowl big enough to fit one of the cutlets. In another similar size bowl, whisk the eggs and cream together. Put the crushed tortilla chips in a third bowl.

  3. 3

    Using a large knife, with the flat side of the blade parallel to your cutting board, slice the chicken through the middle to form cutlets about 5/8 inch thick. Salt and pepper both sides of each cutlet.

  4. 4

    Dip a cutlet into the flour and turn it so that it is uniformly coated. Shake off any excess flour and dip the cutlet in the egg-cream mixture and then in the crushed tortilla chips. Repeat the dipping with as many cutlets as will fit in your deep fryer or pot without touching one another.

  5. 5

    Drop the cutlets into the oil and cook for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes, until the crust is a nice golden brown. Make sure the chicken is submerged while it is frying. Place on paper towels to drain. While the chicken is frying, repeat the dipping process with the remaining cutlets and fry them after the first batch is out of the oil.

  6. 6

    Pour the Spicy Buffalo Wing Sauce into a bowl. Dump the sauce over the chicken just before serving.

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