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Invented in the 1940s in Ithaca, N.Y., by Bob Baker, a professor of food science at Cornell University, Cornell Chicken is crispy-skinned grilled chicken basted with a white vinegar-based barbecue sauce that has been a favorite across Western New York for many years.
Baker was a specialist in poultry and was also credited with helping to invent chicken nuggets.
The chicken is brined for a couple hours and then rubbed with a poultry seasoning. Before placing on the grill, it’s basted with a special barbecue sauce, a mixture of cider vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, sage and rosemary leaves. The chicken is then continually basted with the special sauce during its entire cooking process.
Cornell Chicken is often served with Syracuse Salt Potatoes, small white or red potatoes boiled in salty water and then served with plenty of melted butter.
The recipe for salt potatoes came about in the 1800s when, supposedly, Irish salt miners made lunch by putting potatoes in baskets and then lowering them into kettles of boiling salt brine. The cooked potatoes were then covered with gobs of butter. A relative of mine from Binghamton, N.Y., mentioned that local groceries still sell salt potato kits…bags of potatoes with just the right amount of salt enclosed.
Crispy Cornell Chicken
Both the spice rub and the sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The chicken can be brined, patted dry and rubbed with the seasoning mixture up to eight hours ahead.
2 qts. water
3-1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup salt
4 chicken quarters
Seasoning and Sauce:
1 Tbsp. ground poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbsps. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup olive oil
In a large bowl, whisk together the water, vinegar and salt until the salt dissolves. Add the chicken quarters, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Using a smaller bowl, combine poultry seasoning, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper and set aside. Place vinegar, mustard, sage, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper into a blender and blend until smooth, about one minute. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil until incorporated. Transfer sauce to a bowl and reserve for basting chicken.
Heat outside grill to medium-low heat, about 300 degrees. Be sure to scrape and oil the grates so the chicken won’t stick.
Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub all over with the poultry seasoning mixture. Arrange chicken on the grill skin-side up and baste with vinegar sauce. Cover the grill and cook chicken until well browned on bottom (meat should register 120 degrees), about 25-30 minutes. Baste with sauce halfway through cooking. Turn chicken over and baste with sauce. Continue to grill until skin is golden brown and crisp, about 20-25 minutes, and thigh meat registers 170-175 degrees.
Transfer chicken to a platter and let set for 5 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Syracuse Salt Potatoes
2-3 pounds small red potatoes
Butter or margarine
Wash the potatoes first, lightly scrubbing without removing the skin. Fill a large pot about half full of water. Add about a cup of salt to the water and stir. If you can stir all of the salt into the water (no salt settles out of the water after stirring), keep adding salt (about 1/4 cup at a time) until the water is saturated with salt.
Add the potatoes to the pot. If necessary, add more water to cover the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook the potatoes until they fork tender. Drain and serve covered with plenty of melted butter. Makes 4 servings.
Stewed Calamari with Tomatoes and Fennel
Frozen, cleaned squid is available in the freezer section of many grocery stores. The stewed calamari can be served over creamy grits or polenta or, if you prefer, over a short pasta, like penne, bowtie or fusilli pasta.
2 lbs. cleaned calamari (squid)
4 Tbsps. olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsps. tomato paste
1/4 cup anise-flavored liquor
1 cup red wine
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fennel fronds, chopped
Slice calamari tubes into rings and roughly chop tentacles. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onions and fennel, stirring occasionally to coat with oil and sauté about 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Add garlic cloves and tomato paste; stir well to combine. Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring to blend.
Add the red wine, stir well, and increase heat to high. Boil until liquid is reduced by about half. Add the anise-flavored liquor and crushed tomatoes. Stir in the calamari and simmer for at least one hour. Calamari should be tender; if not, continue to simmer and check for tenderness every 15 minutes.
Once tender, add salt and pepper, if needed. Add chopped parsley and fennel fronds. Stir well to combine and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.
Baked Corn Casserole
This easy corn casserole recipe is made with eggs, corn and milk. Try adding some green chilies for a spicier version.
2 Tbsps. butter
1-1/2 Tbsps. flour
1 cup milk
2 cups cooked or canned corn, drained
2 tsps. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, well beaten
Melt butter over low heat; add flour and mix well. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Add corn, sugar, salt and pepper; heat through. Remove from heat and add the beaten eggs and then pour into a greased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until firm. Makes 4-6 servings.