There was a high time when no one loved Popeye’s more than me. I would eat it once, twice, three times a week. Then I moved to San Francisco. By chance, my apartment was above a Popeye’s. This is great, I thought. I can pop in whenever. Pop in to Popeye’s.
But, their grease duct vented right into my window. Seven straight months of inhaling nothing but that stench, and now I can barely walk past one without slightly gagging.
I still love the flavor, though. Delicious Popeye’s. Now, thanks to acclaimed chef Wylie Dufresne, I can make it at home. And I will. The recipe comes from a new cookbook by Lee Brian Schrager, who tasked the talented chef with recreating the recipe.
Here’s the trick.
The tenders first get an overnight soak in buttermilk and hot sauce that makes them juicy and, um, tender. To nail the perfectly seasoned crust, he eventually landed on a breading that includes a packet of onion soup and a hefty dose of McCormick’s Italian Herb Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix. (If this makes you cringe, remember who we’re talking about here, and trust.) Cornstarch, potato starch and baking soda added to the self-rising flour mixture ensure the signature craggy texture and exceptional crunch. Finally, after much experimentation to find the perfect frying temperature, he settled on a relatively low 300°, which renders the crust a deep golden-brown and keeps the lean meat moist.
Head over to Serious Eats to read the rest of the recipe, as well as Dufresne’s take on their biscuits.