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Panko-Crusted Chicken & Shichimi Togarashi Waffles with Kabocha Fries + 2018 Still Kraisey Merlot

To commemorate milestones, I let the boys pick a celebratory meal. Anywhere they want to go or, more likely, anything they want me to cook. D finished his summer school math class yesterday and asked for his favorite: chicken and waffles. Easy. Done.

What we didn't know, when he picked the menu, was that he got 100% on his final and will be headed into calculus next year. As a sophomore. He logged in and saw his score and grade while I was cooking.

Sometimes I just stare and them and wonder where they got their aptitude for math and science. It certainly wasn't from me. In any case, he wanted plain ol' chicken and waffles; I decided to shake it up and add some Japanese flavor flair. This is a pretty simple recipe with four parts that come together into something incredibly tasty. Try it and tell me what you think!

Also, I did the kabocha fries first and served them room temperature. The chicken was last and served hot.

Shichimi Togarashi is also called Japanese Seven Spice. And though you can make it yourself, I usually just order it. A typical blend may contain: coarsely ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient), ground sanshō (Japanese pepper), roasted orange peel, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, ground ginger, and nori (dried seaweed).

Ingredients serves 4
Panko-Crusted Chicken
  • 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • flour for dredging, approximately 1/2 C
  • panko breadcrumbs for coating, approximately 2 C
  • 1 t Shichimi Togarashi*
  • 2 to 3 t butter, melted
  • 2 C flour
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 5 T unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 1 t Shichimi Togarashi
Kabocha Fries
  • 1 organic kabocha squash, peeled and sliced into thick wedges
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • 3 T butter
  • olive oil
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 C chicken stock
  • 1 t Shichimi Togarashi
For Serving
  • maple syrup, optional

Kabocha Fries
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
In large mixing bowl, whisk together oils and soy sauce. Toss squash in oil mixture until well coated. Spread squash in even layer on baking sheet. Roast 20 to 25 minutes, then flip and roast another 20 to 25 minutes more.

Increase heat to 500°F. Roast an additional 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Set aside until ready to serve.

Panko-Crusted Chicken
Preheat oven to 450°F. In a medium-size bowl mix together flour and shichimi togarashi. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs. And, in a third bowl, pour the panko. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Coat chicken thighs in the flour mixture then dip into beaten eggs. Gently press the thighs into the panko crumbs until they are completely coated. Place chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining thighs. Drizzle melted butter over the chicken (approximately  ½ tsp on each).

Bake for 12 minutes. Flip chicken and bake for an additional 8 minutes or until chicken is firm to the touch and no longer pink in the center.

Place all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir till just moistened. Cook in your waffle-maker according to its directions.

In a small pot melt the butter in a splash of olive oil. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the stock. Whisk constantly until thickened to a nice gravy consistency. Season to taste with shichimi togarashi.

For Serving
Let diners serve themselves. I did: waffle, then kabocha fries, then chicken, then gravy. Jake and D both like gravy and maple syrup.

The boys had Swamp Pop, a cane sugar sweetened cola with herbs and figs, with their dinner. Jake and I were on day two of a bottle from one of our favorite vintners.

Still Kraisey

Jake and I finished off the 2018 Still Kraisey Merlot from Donkey & Goat. From the Mendocino appellation and the Testa Vineyard, this wine has a soft fuchsia hue that always makes me smile. It's so pretty!

On the nose, it has subtle fruit aromas. Think sun-kissed raspberries. And on the tongue those berries are contrasted with a pop of citrus. I especially love that this was aged in Italian clay for almost five months. That seems to lend it a soft texture that's a little too drinkable. the two bottles I bought are now gone. I hope they have a few bottles left when I head up to Berkeley next weekend. But I'm not holding my breath.

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