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Forget Chicken & Waffles; try Italian Fried Chicken and Zeppoles instead

Jasper Mirabile’s Italian Fried Chicken & Zeppoles
Jasper Mirabile’s Italian Fried Chicken & Zeppoles

It was a very busy week after Memorial Day this year. I had cooking classes and many events scheduled at my restaurant.

I really had no time to sit and enjoy dinner but this past weekend I think I may have discovered another new dish that I can add to my recipe collection.

If you ask your average American, everyone is familiar with fried chicken. I decided to do a little research and went to www.pbs.org for some history.

I found that fried chicken dates back to the French in the 1600s and the art of frying chicken breast dusted with flour was very popular. They called it Fricassee and topped it with a sauce.

When the dish came to America in colonial times, the Pennsylvania Dutch perfected their own version of crispy chicken and ate it with what they called a gravy. Any leftovers would be pulled apart and served in a sauce the next morning over sweet waffles. Savory and sweet, a classic combination.

In the late 1940s, Wells Supper Club in Harlem, New York, opened and serve the late-night dinners. The popularity of Fried Chicken & Waffles was growing and this may have been the first so-called restaurant to serve the popular dish.

It wasn’t until 1976 when Roscoe’s House of Fried Chicken and Waffles opened in Los Angeles and the popularity began to grow again.

Like I said earlier, I really had no time to sit and enjoy dinner this past week, but our kitchen team was frying Italian breadcrumb coated chicken this past Friday evening for the employee meal and at the same a customer requested that I prepare Zeppoles, the Italian version of deep fried doughnuts or fritters.

When you’re working the kitchen, you grab a bite of this or that and usually get a 5 to 10 minute break, not to really enjoy but just enough to give nourishment for the evening dinner service.

I was heating the fried chicken and I grabbed a leftover Zeppole and immediately fried chicken and waffles came to mind. My version was a little different but something I was used to and the combination of both together with a little honey drizzle on top made one terrific meal.

All during dinner service I could not get this dish out of my mind and at the end of the shift I prepared it again. I mean seriously, it was late night, and if you know the cook from any restaurant, they will tell you that that is usually when our main meal is finally enjoyed, as they are relaxing and trying to unwind.

The next morning, I awoke and decided to write the recipe for my new dish. Actually, it’s hard for me to say new dish because all I am doing is combining two classic recipes, an Italian take on fried chicken and of course Italian doughnuts.

Customers often ask me how I came up with a new dish or what inspiration I had for combining ingredients. In this case, I just went for the old iconic fried chicken and waffles and did an Italian update. You too can do the same in your kitchen.

Mangia Bene!

Jasper Mirabile’s Italian Fried Chicken & Zeppoles

For the Italian Fried Chicken

2 pounds chicken wings

3 cups Italian breadcrumbs

1 cup buttermilk

Fresh oregano to taste

Sea salt to taste

3 cups oil for frying chicken

Wash chicken. Toss chicken in buttermilk. Dust with Italian breadcrumbs. Place in frying pan & cook until chicken is crispy.

For the Zeppoles

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 pinch salt

1 cup boiling water

3 eggs

1 tablespoons butter

4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Powdered sugar for dusting

Bring water to a boil. Add butter and salt. Mix. Add flour. Mix. Add one egg at a time. Mix each time. This will form a batter.

Heat oil in a pot to 375 degrees. Drop spoonfulls of batter in hot vegetable oil. Cook until brown. Roll in sugar and serve.

Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s commands the helm of his family’s 59-year-old restaurant, consistently rated one of Kansas City’s best Italian restaurants. In addition to running the restaurant with his brother, Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He hosts many famous chefs on his weekly radio show Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM and sells a line of dressings and sauces.

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