Monday, May 6, 2013

two hundred and thirty-seven

Growing up, I didn't eat fast food very often.  My car-having friends, on the other hand, would usually stop and get something to eat on the way home from school.  Since I was in the car I got to be the little bird that stole a chip or two while they weren't looking.  No one minded and it would have been a perfect system had I not developed a taste for some of those greasy eats.  Now that I'm doing the "adult" thing, I can run to McDonalds and get a Big Mac should I feel so inclined--which I do once or twice a year (usually when on a road trip)--but the frustration known as the "regional chain" doesn't always allow for fulfillment of my random cravings for, say, Zaxby's.

Zaxby's is a Southern chicken semi-sit down restaurant (the kind where you order, sit, and then have your food brought to you) that would be unremarkable without one thing: Zax Sauce.  A mix of mayonnaise, ketchup, and a couple of other things, it is capable of making the most boring of chicken strips into an experience.  Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, but if I am it's not by much.  I can't buy the Zax Sauce in the South and smuggle it home in my luggage since the little containers say to "keep refrigerated" (ahem).  This predicament has left me with only one solution: restaurant recipe rip off!

Chicken Nuggets and Homemade Zax Sauce

For the Nuggets:

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup milk or water
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
oil for frying

Cut the chicken into nugget sized pieces.  Be sure to discard any sinew or fat.

Mix the egg, Worcestershire sauce, and milk in a pie pan (or, if you're lazy, in a gallon sized zip top bag).  Set aside.

Mix the flour and Old Bay in a gallon sized zip top bag.  Add the pieces of chicken to the flour mixture and toss to coat.  Remove the coated nuggets from the flour, shaking any excess flour back into the bag.  Don't discard the flour; you'll be using it again.

Add the floured chicken to the egg mixture.  Toss or stir the floured chicken to coat it in the egg.

Transfer the eggy chicken back to the bag with the flour mixture.  Toss the chicken to coat it with the flour.  Let the chicken sit in the bag while you heat the frying oil.

Heat the frying oil over medium heat until it is shimmery, but not smoking.  Shake the excess coating from the chicken and add it to the oil in two to four batches.  Fry the chicken, turning if necessary, until it floats and is golden brown, about 4 minutes per batch.

Drain prepared chicken on a paper towel lined plate.

For the Zax Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
1-2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix everything together.  Use one teaspoon of vinegar/lemon juice at first, then add the second if it still tastes too creamy.  

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (ideally overnight) before serving to allow the spices to do their thing.

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