Some people get sad when the Christmas season ends, or they long for sunny days once the summer sun has faded into a fall one. Some of us dream about spring, revel in the bountiful gardens of tomatoes it produces, then mourn when the heat overtakes it. Some of us channel our inner theatre camp nerd and anxiously await the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, then sadly lose excitement when we realize Tina and Amy aren’t hosting anymore. And some of us live for football (the American kind), and count down the games left in the season with sad puppy dog eyes.
That last one was definitely not me. It’s the boy. Every year is the same, with equal amounts of highs and lows. He’ll start off the season in September all atwitter with excitement, somehow convinced our alma mater, Texas A&M, won’t suck, or overjoyed at the Houston Texans lineup, hoping against all hope that Arian Foster doesn’t break or pull or concuss anything.
And the season generally ends in an overwhelming disappointment. A&M lets him down again in spectacular fashion, with a poisonous, suspicious gut-feeling that maybe Johnny Manziel was the hype, not the program itself. Arian Foster inevitably hurts himself, leaving the boy in a heap of sadness on the couch while wearing said player’s jersey.
Despite the heartbreak he feels from his disappointing personal favorite teams, the boy does a good job of bouncing back and simply enjoying the sport, even if his teams did crash and burn. He has a mental countdown of how many games are left in the season, and he becomes more and more excited with each playoff matchup, like a little puppy wiggling in anticipation of the ball being thrown. It’s adorable – possibly because I liken it to a puppy.
His joy is infectious, and that’s the only reason I know who Antonio Brown is and why it’s so sad that horrible Burfict guy from the Bengals injured him. Or that Bill Belichick is unanimously agreed to be some evil dark lord, and that’s why the Patriots are as consistently and ridiculously good as they are. Or that AJ McCarron did surprisingly well quarterbacking in place of the Red Rocket, Andy Dalton. Why should I know that? Because of love, and fried foods.
We use these last days of football as an excuse to fry things – more than we ever do the rest of the year. From pickles to jalapenos to chicken, we make one greasy choice after another, all in the name of American football. Even when I lose interest in the game, My attention span is rescued by the abundance of junk food.
So we’re sharing a recipe for easy fried chicken bites just in time for the divisional championships and Superbowl. Even if you hate the sport itself, learn from me and find entertainment in the margaritas, fried chicken, and loud shouting. This meal is in fact a staple at the boy’s parent’s house on game days. His mom, a stellar home cook, fries up these bites of chicken for her four sons, served with several options for dipping – from gravy to wing sauce to ketchup to ranch.
These are relatively quick and easy. There’s no brining or overnight marinating to do. Simply dredge raw bits of chicken, fry them to a crisp, and serve with a buffet of dipping sauces. We chose ketchup, bottled wing sauce, and a homemade spicy ranch. We threw a few waffle fries in for good measure (from a frozen bag, because nobody got tiiiiime for that).
So enjoy, friends! Celebrate your American right to veg-out, fry chicken, drink beer, and watch hour after hour of football while you still can. My money is on the Patriots winning it all.
Easy Fried Chicken Bites
For the Spicy Ranch (optional)
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons high quality mayo
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Chicken
- 3 lbs raw chicken breasts cut into bite-size chunks
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Canola oil
- Favorite wing sauce (Texans, we use HEB Flyin' Saucy – HOT)
- Favorite ketchup (Texans, we use Whataburger – available at HEB)
- Frozen waffle fries cooked to package instructions
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- To make the spicy ranch, combine all of its ingredients in a food processor. Process until everything is smooth and uniform. Test to see if you need to add any spices to fit your tastes.
- Fill a heavy-bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) about ½" thick in canola oil. Heat over high-medium-high heat. The oil is ready when you can drizzle a tiny bit of flour over it and it skitters across and evaporates quickly.
- Whisk the flour and salt together in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then egg mixture, then flour again. Gently lay in the hot oil, repeating until the pan is full (but not crowded).
- Cook the chicken, turning frequently to make sure all sides get the same even coloring. Once they are a deep golden brown and register at no less that 155 degrees Fahrenheit on a digital thermometer, they're finished.
- Carefully remove the chicken pieces to a paper towel-lined plate or pan and let drain. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper while still hot. Repeat this process until all the chicken has been cooked.
- Serve the chicken bites hot with the dipping sides and fries (optional). They are best served hot and fresh, but can be reheated easily in the microwave.
- You can use your favorite store-bought or homemade creamy dipping sauce in place of the spicy ranch recipe listed here.