Monday, May 16, 2011

Doubled over by a Double Down

It's the hot topic of the last week and it's about food.  So I thought I better get involved.  Kiwi's from North to South appear to have been doubled over by KFC's latest marketing strategy aka 'burger'.  And what a campaign it has been.

A double down inspired DOUBLE DOWN.  Cooked by a Masterchef contestant.....i.e ME!

As the great jazz musician Miles Davis said 'It's not the notes you play; it's the notes you don't play.'  So are we to believe that KFC have created a revolution by providing a 'burger' without buns?  Will we soon be eating Big Mac's where two meat patties will be cushioned between another two meat patties?  I'm not sure the amazonian rain forest or the public healthcare system could handle that.

You do however have to dip your hat to the people behind the idea.  Who would have thought removing bread could cause such a stir.  The 'burger' has caused a storm wherever it has been released. Selling more than 10 million units in the US and becoming the fastest selling burger in Canada it has achieved numbers usually reserved for Justin Beiber's latest single.

It's arrival in Australia meant it was too close for us not to sample and aided by a facebook campaign the KFC execs decided to release the burger here.  NZ shook as fat people rejoiced and attempted to high-five each other before deciding that an appreciative nod and a 'Wooha!' was a perfectly acceptable reaction.

Nutritionists across the country were in disgust at the brazen celebration of a self prescribed heart killer.  So vehement were their cries that you would think medical insurance companies would have a new question on their application forms:  How much do you smoke?  How much do you drink?  How many Double Downs have you eaten?

Given blanket media coverage, helped by the free supply of samples to anyone remotely linked to journalism, the hype quickly developed.  People queued before opening.  Some people bought two in case they sold out.  And guess what.  In some locations they actually did sell out!

So with the boys coming over to watch the Warriors on Sunday I thought why not give this double down thing a go?  Masterchef styles of course.  The mission, to consume, critique and then recreate the Double down burger.

The boys arrive and we go through the plan, while consuming a home made mince and cheese pie fresh out of the oven.  You have to warm up the stomach for these types of adventures!  We hit the road and rather excitedly we join an elaborate queue at the KFC drive thru.

Only one car away from service and I see there is a notice on the window.  I jokingly suggest to the boys that they might have run out of double downs.  Ha!  Double Ha!  A fast food restaurant running out of fast food.  That kind of stuff just doesn't happen.  It would be like a gas station running out of petrol, or West Auckland running out of bourbon.

So shock of all horrors.  It was true.  2.03pm.  New Lynn KFC.  No double downs.  We hurriedly offer more cash.  All that we have.  No use.  I even go so far as to place an order of 100.  Surely they will rush some in. No use.  New Lynn is done for double downs.

So unfortunately the plan hit a huge speed bump.  Without the KFC version I had nothing to critique.  Though luckily, with all the publicity, I've got the contents of the burger down pat.  We decided to give it a go anyway.  Two chicken breasts coated in that special crispy batter surrounding melted cheese, bacon, and some kind of sauce.

The sauce is the unknown but I decide to go for something that will make the dish a bit more lively and add a bit of flavor to try and cut through the grease.  A Rouille seems like a good choice.  This is an aioli which also has roasted red capsicum blended into it.

The most important trick to getting this right was to marinade the chicken.  Chicken breast can be lean but when you leave the meat in a buttermilk or yoghurt marinade overnight it becomes beautifully tender.  I decide to spice up the marinade with garlic, ginger, chicken salt, paprika and a bit of chilli powder.

Once marinated I batter the chicken by dipping in flour, seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, onion powder and garlic powder, then placing it in an egg wash before going back into the flour, back into the egg wash and then into Panko breadcrumbs.  Panko breadcrumbs are a bit more chunky than the standard stuff and they provide a great crispy covering for any fried goods.

The chicken then gets shallow fried in a pan with enough oil to come half way up the chicken.  About 4 minutes on either side and the chicken is done.

Chicken shallow fried and ready to be finished in the oven

For the cheese I chose Over the Moon's Double Delight brie.  The name comparison made sense.  For the bacon I chose Henderson's Dry cured bacon.  Smoked over Manuka this bacon has a wonderful strength of smoky flavor that you don't find in other brands.

And so, after about an hour of fiddling about we have a result.  A homemade double down.  I look at what has wound up being a monstrous plate of food.  Do I use a knife and fork?  Never!  Gripped firmly between two hands I proceed to devour.

A very proud creation
 I can't tell you how good the KFC one is.  I couldn't get my hands on one.  But I can tell you that my own version is blooming amazing.  Yes it felt bad.  Yes, as I write this, two days later, I can still feel the 'burger' inside me. Will I make another?  Perhaps.  KFC are only selling the 'burgers' for a limited time so perhaps I can set up a clinic for those who get addicted and need their fix?

If anyone wants the full recipe to try it themselves drop a comment below or send me an email and I'll put it together for you.

Now......what can we do next......that four pattie Big Mac?


  1. Your burger looks WAY better than KFC, I havent had the much talked about burger, but those who have had it, havent fallen in love with it, your combo looks and sounds delish, would even taste good in a bun!!!

  2. Thanks Lisa. It's fair to say my version probably got a bit more devoted cooking attention than a KFC one would! The only thing they have on me is that crispy chicken skin. If only I could work it out!?

  3. Your version looks great, and no doubt tastes far better than the commercial version. Yes please: I'd love the recipe.

    Though I'm not sure when I'll be able to try it out. We have been a little proactive in dismantling our old kitchen without having a confirmed date for installing the new one. Oops.

  4. Oh no! Cooking on the bbq for a while then?! I'll get the recipe up shortly for ya :)

  5. OH.MY.GOD! That looks amazing!!! I bet it tastes better. I myself didnt go get one, I couldnt really see the point, sounds like it's just two pieces of chicken and cheese... what's the diff between a double down and going and buying two pieces of chicken from KFC? lol