September 20, 2021

Seasoning is the Spice of Life

Seasoning is the Spice of Life

Spice blends that are actually good are a total game changer. They provide big, complex flavors without all the work–no toasting or grinding a potpourri of spices just to prepare a weeknight meal. But when it comes to these blends, you don’t always know exactly what you’re getting unless it’s from a trusted source.

Over the years, Chef Kenny Gilbert, this month’s CrateChef featured chef, has developed a passion for herbs and spices. Better yet, he has paired that passion with his culinary prowess to create Chef Kenny’s Spice Blends, a line of spice blends with equally big personalities. The product line, which includes Jerk Spice, Raging Cajun and Cinnamon Coffee Rub, is used by luxury hotel brands including The Lodge at Sea Island Company and the Omni Amelia Island Hotel and Resort. And now it can be used by you too.

In our August/September CrateChef box, we are featuring three of Chef Kenny’s eponymous spice blends. They comprise of the ultimate meat-lover’s spice trio, though they will spice up just about any surface onto which they can sputter.

Chef Kenny’s Fried Chicken Seasoning
This seasoning was originally crafted for a holiday celebration at Oprah Winfrey’s home in Hawaii. “I’ve had fried chicken recipes for a long time, but in this particular case, I wanted something crispy, flavorful and something that would be very craveable,” said Chef Kenny, who created a winner dish. “She said it was the best fried chicken she’d ever had.” Winfrey went on to select Chef Kenny’s spices as some of her favorite things and announced on her website that the “the fried-chicken seasoning should be declared a national treasure.” The seasoning is the basis of the delicious savory flavor of Chef Kenny’s Buttermilk Southern Fried Chicken. He also shares a pro move of adding cornstarch to the dredge to achieve a crispier texture. “I like a thinner crust because I like it to be a bit lighter. Fried chicken is that initial bite, hot and fresh,” said Chef Kenny. “I like a thinner crust because I pair it with a biscuit. Make a nice, juicy, tender chicken and let the biscuit do its thing.”

Chef Kenny’s Cinnamon Coffee Rub
This comprises of coffee bean, cumin and cinnamon-based spice that was created on the Big Island in Hawaii after Chef Kenny tasted a friend’s version on lamb chops. “I thought it was delicious. It was the first time I had some of those flavors and I adapted my recipe from that meal to make it my own,” said Chef Kenny, who recommends using the spice for Coffee Rubbed Salmon with Tomatillo Pico de Gallo. “The combination is truly special. The spice is great on everything, but I use it as a Tex-Mex blend and it goes well with Latin flavors.”

Chef Kenny’s Jerk Spice
This blend will take you (back) to your favorite island paradise and is inspired by Chef Kenny’s love of Caribbean- and African-inspired foods. He recommends using this “almost sinful” spice in his recipe for Jerk Broccoli with Papaya Chutney. “I love jerk and I wanted something that was a vegetarian item. Make sure you roast this hard to make a really nice crust,” he said.

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