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Chicken And Ribs, Gourmet Style

One of the hottest books this fall is not a novel or a biography; it is a cookbook, but not an ordinary one.

"The Gourmet Cookbook," features over 1,000 recipes and weighs nearly six pounds. It features classic American recipes as well as recipes from around the world.

Editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl and the executive editor John Willoughby demonstrate these recipes on Friday's The Early Show:

Claritha's Fried Chicken
Serves 4
Active Time: 1 1/2 Hours
Start to Finish: 10 1/2 Hours
(Includes Marinating)

After years of searching, we found this incredible recipe for fried chicken. It first appeared in Tender at the Bone, a tasty memoir by our editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichl. She originally wrested the recipe, with some guile, from a woman named Claritha whom she met in a bar in Ann Arbor, Mich., during the 1960s. Our adaptation pieces together almost all the methods we've ever used for frying chicken, but it adds one more technique that we find intriguing: coating the chicken with kosher salt. The salt not only acts as a brine, which has salubrious effect on lean meats, but it draws excess moisture out of the chicken, resulting in far less spattering than usual. Amazingly, the meat remains moist and tender. If you have a cast-iron skillet, by all means use it to fry chicken. Since these skillets don't always have lids, you can jury-rig one using a baking sheet or large stockpot lid.

1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) chicken, rinsed, patted dry, cut into 8 serving pieces, and, if necessary, large pieces halved
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups well-shaken buttermilk
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 cups vegetable shortening
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

Put chicken in a bowl and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 cup kosher salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Combine buttermilk and onions in a large bowl. Rinse chicken well and add to buttermilk. Marinate, covered and refrigerated, for at least 8 hours.

Put flour, cayenne, cracked pepper, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a paper or plastic bag and shake to combine well. Remove 1 piece of chicken from buttermilk, shake off excess liquid, put in a bag, and shake to coat well. Transfer to a sheet of wax paper. Coat remaining chicken, one piece at a time, in same manner. Let chicken air-dry for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Heat shortening and butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron, over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add one third of chicken pieces, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook, covered, until juices run clear when meat is pierced with a sharp knife, about 8 minutes for breast or 12 minutes for legs and thighs. Transfer chicken to paper towel-lined platter to drain and keep warm in oven. Cook remaining chicken pieces in 2 batches in the same manner.

Cook's Note
*The chicken can marinate in the buttermilk for up to 1 day.

Chinese-Hawaiian "Barbecued" Ribs
Serves 3 to 4
Active Time: 15 minutes
Start to Finish: 5 hours
(Includes Marinating)

Hawaiian food often has gotten a bad rap, no doubt owing to the mediocrity of the pupu platters thrust upon unsuspecting tourists. But these phenomenal ribs, which are easy to prepare and require nothing you can't find at your local supermarket, show that bad reputations are often undeserved. The secret of the preparation, incidentally, was divulged to us by none other than Donn Beach, owner of the original Don the Beachcomber's Restaurant.

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup medium-dry sherry
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 (1-inch) cube peeled fresh ginger, smashed
3 racks baby back pork ribs (3 pounds total; do not cut ribs apart)

Stir together sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, sherry, and salt in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Pour marinade into a roasting pan, then add garlic and ginger. Add ribs and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for at least 3 hours.

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat over to 325 degrees F.

Line a broiler pan with foil. Arrange ribs, rounded sides up, on broiler rack; reserve marinade for basting (discard garlic and ginger.) Roast, basting with marinade every 20 minutes (do not baste during last 10 minutes of cooking), until ribs are tender and glaze is well browned, about 1 3/4 hours; discard any unused marinade.

Let racks of ribs stand for 5 minutes, loosely covered with foil, then cut into individual ribs.

Cook's Note
*The ribs can marinate for up to 1 day.

Crème Brulee French Toast
Serves 6
Active Time: 15 minutes
Start to Finish: 9 hours
(Includes Chilling)

The owners of inns and bed-and-breakfasts are experts at making breakfast and brunch dishes that can be assembled in advance with a minimum of fuss. When you invert this French toast onto plates, it will have a lovely golden-brown caramel topping - and you don't even need syrup. Rick and Jackie Diehl, of the Inn at Sunrise Point, outside Camden, Maine, were happy to share the recipe, which they got from Barbara Furdyna, the owner of La Maison, a French country inn in Spring Lake, N.J. At La Maison, challah is often the bread of choice. We also tried the recipe with a baguette, leaving the crust on, and found it just as delicious.
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 (8 to 9-inch) round country-style loaf
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until smooth. Pour into a 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Cut six 1-inch thick slices from center portion of bread (reserve ends for another use) and trim off crusts. Arrange bread in one layer in baking dish, squeezing slices slightly to fit.
Whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier (if using), and salt in a bowl until well combined and pour evenly over bread. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 8 hours.

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring soaked bread to room temperature.

Bake until toast is puffed and edges are pale golden, 35-40 minutes.

With spatula, transfer French toast to plates, turning slice syrup side up.

Cook's Note
*The soaked bread can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours

Golden Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting
Serves 12
Active Time: 1 Hour
Start to Finish: 3 Hours
(Includes cooling and making frosting)

Very big and very beautiful, this classic four-layer cake is baked in two round cake pans, then split into four layers. The sour cream plays a dual role here: it adds richness to the cake, and its tang offsets the sweetness of the frosting. If you're looking for a delicious and very impressive birthday cake to serve to a large group, this is it.

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream
Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting (recipe follows)
Optional Garnish: Brown Sugar Buttercream (recipe not included here)
Special Equipment: two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter cake pans and line bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla.

Reduce speed to low, add half of flour mixture, and mix until just blended.

Add sour cream, mixing until just combined, then add remaining flour and mix until smooth.

Divide batter between pans and smooth tops.

Bake until cake is springy to the touch and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes, then invert onto racks, remove paper, and cool completely.
If necessary, trim tops of cooled cake layers with a long serrated knife to make them flat and level.

Halve each layer horizontally with serrated knife (see page 727).

Put one cake layer on a cake plate and spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layers, using 3/4 cup frosting between each layer.

Frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Pipe brown sugar buttercream decoratively on cake, if desired.

Cook's Notes
The cake layers can be made up to one day ahead and kept, well wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

The cake can be assembled up to one day ahead and refrigerated in a cake keeper or loosely covered with plastic wrap (use toothpicks to hold wrap away from the frosting). Bring to room temperature before serving.

The batter can also be baked in a 13-by-9-inch pan for 50 to 55 minutes. It can also be used to make cupcakes; bake in 30 (1/3 or 1/2 cup) muffin cups for about 25 minutes.

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