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Cheers to Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken, the New Champion of Winter Comfort Food

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The cold days and long nights of winter make us all long for the sort of hot, hearty meals that warm from the inside out. Luckily, the team at Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken has answered the call with the limited edition Winter Warmer, a Brooklyn Winter Lager-battered fried chicken sandwich that will fend off the weather better than your big puffy coat.

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We met with Mike DeGregory (that’s him above) in the East Village location of Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken to get a look at what went into this recipe. It was the most dangerous of New York City winter days: slightly warmer than you expected, but still chilly enough to make you regret loosening the collar of your jacket. In short, we needed some fortification.

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The Winter Warmer starts with a quick buttermilk and black pepper marinade, followed by a flour dredge. Then we get to the magical tempura batter, featuring our beloved Brooklyn Winter Lager, followed by a bubble bath in the fryer. Tempura batters are celebrated for their light, puffy texture and crisp, shattering shell. This layer visibly grows thicker and puffier as it fries, giving the impression that the chicken is summoning new layers like a commuter piling on wrappings for the long walk to the subway.

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A shower of secret seasoning, a scoop of fresh slaw, and the chicken is ready to nestle in the toasted pretzel bun. Spirals of a honey Dijon aioli on both buns try valiantly to keep the whole sandwich together, but watch your lap– that slaw can be sneaky.

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Put simply, the Winter Warmer is delicious. Put dramatically, the Winter Warmer makes me feel like every sockful of slush in my lifetime of cruel New York winters has been forgiven. The tempura shatters with each bite like a boot through a thin layer of ice, revealing the hot, juicy chicken within. The Brooklyn Winter Lager in the batter announces itself with a gentle roasted note that complements the craggy fried surface and toasted pretzel bun. Each bite is ushered out by the tangy buttermilk, mustard and slaw tag team, make this sandwich surprisingly light.

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Well warmed and still talking about the tempura, we snagged a bag of Winter Warmers to bring back to the brewery. We’d love to show you a photo of those, but they were devoured before we had a chance. Take it from us and the team at Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken: the Winter Warmer is the antidote to cold-weather woes. It’s only available for the month of January, so layer up and go get yours.

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