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So. As some of you know, I managed to almost burn down my kitchen the other night. How, you ask? Well, apparently oil can catch fire spontaneously when it reaches a certain temperature. I had heard of a “flashpoint,” but I thought that had more to do with a change in texture and perhaps a brief “flash” or flame–not a moment at which it combusts into an 8 inch high fire that doesn’t go out.

I had been cutting up the chicken and preparing the batter for the recipe below, and I hadn’t realized how long it had taken. Like an idiot, I left the oil on high heat for just a little too long. Just as I realized it and turned off the heat–it burst into flames. A game show buzzer sounded in my head–“BEEEEP! Just a second too late. Better luck next time!”

I immediately removed the pot from the stove, grabbed the lid and placed it over the fire, which did help put out the flame, but black smoke continued to billow out from beneath the lid. I called 911 just to ask how to stop the smoke. There was just so much oil (since this is a recipe for deep frying), and I couldn’t risk carrying it through the house to get it outside. I expected a tip like “more baking soda.” But, of course, they sent two fire trucks to the house. At eleven thirty on a Saturday night. Suffice it to say, the neighbors were curious.

My obvious lack of a social life aside, the lesson for me was clear: to carry extra baking soda or an extinguisher in the kitchen (and perhaps, some more throughout the house). Unexpected things can happen to even the most prolific cook.

The really funny part: Minutes after the firefighters left, I was told we have an extinguisher. But, in the moment, my  mother forgot about it. So, the second lesson is to remember your extinguisher once you’ve bought it. This should go on the Top 5 things to have (and remember) in your kitchen. At #1.

About 40 minutes after the fire broke out, and after about 20 minutes of having a squad of well built men flush the smoke out of the house with fans, I was able to get back to the chicken. Sigh.

The good news is, it came out absolutely delicious! Spicy, smooth flavored, and even a little bit malty, the batter came out nice and crunchy. Definitely a different consistency than the deep-fried Baja-style fish tacos from last week–and equally as scrumptious!

So, without further ado, the recipe:

Skill Level:  EASY (provided you don’t burn down your kitchen)

Preparation time:  About 15 minutes if you’re cutting up the chicken yourself.

Cooking time:  10 minutes for each batch of pieces (5 minutes to cook each side), if deep frying more like 5-6 minutes. About 20 minutes for all of the pieces if you’re using the same size pan as I did.

Servings: 6-8.


2 chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips and rubbed with salt

canola oil (for frying)


3/4 cup millet flour (you can substitute this with all purpose white flour; millet just lends a slightly different texture and flavor)

1 cup all purpose flour

2 tsp parsley

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground dry mustard

1/2 tsp ground coriander seed

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp  ground dried jalapeño or habañero pepper (optional–if you want an extra kick)

2 eggs, beaten

1 8 0z can Guinness

Breadcrumb/flour mixture

1 cup spelt flour (again, this can be substituted with all purpose flour)

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs (optional–but adds extra zest)

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp parsley

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix all dry ingredients for the batter in a large bowl. Add the eggs and the Guinness and whisk together until smooth. You want to achieve a thick consistency that will still drip a little bit, almost like pancake batter.

Mix all dry ingredients for the breadcrumbs in a separate large bowl.

With a pair of tongs, lightly coat each strip of chicken in breadcrumbs, then transfer to the batter. Let a little bit of batter drip off of each piece, then return to the breadcrumbs and coat once again.

Heat up a pan with at least 1/2 inch canola oil. If you have enough to cover the chicken, even better. But given the fiasco with the first batch of oil, I only had enough to cook one half of each piece at a time, which still worked well and resulted in crunchy fried chicken.

Almost the same as deep fried! So delicious.

Remove to a rack or plates lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Let cool and enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce. I normally love ranch, but the smooth, earthy flavor of this recipe may be complemented better by a sweeter sauce like BBQ or honey mustard. I also think it would be ridiculously fantastic on a salad–but my supply didn’t last long enough for me to find out! Someone please make this and let me know….

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