Friday, September 17, 2021

Kosher food options in Bergen County have expanded with the opening of Buckets, the newest concept to join Burger Boss, Jerky Boss, Taco 185, and Sizzle & Smoke Catering, with family-sized buckets of crunchy, juicy Southern fried chicken and fried chicken sandwiches. “Everyone loves fried chicken,” said founder Jon Katz. “Kosher Southern fried chicken was a niche waiting to be filled.”

Jonny Miller, executive chef and co-owner, did a lot of experimenting to arrive at the final recipes for the chicken and sauces. One big challenge was developing a satisfactory substitute for the buttermilk used in non-kosher Southern fried chicken. The feedback from customers confirms his success. “We’ve gotten rave reviews for the texture and crunchiness of the chicken,” said Katz. “It’s head over heels our most popular item across our different restaurant concepts.”

A personal kosher chef for many years, Miller, known as Chef Jonny, has a good idea of what people like, having created hundreds of menus for private clients. He is using the techniques he learned for gourmet cooking to develop innovative flavor combinations that bring everyday comfort food to an even more enjoyable level.

My family recently had a Buckets night and we sampled almost everything. Full buckets of eight pieces of chicken, light and dark meat, or half buckets can be ordered with a pleasantly fiery buffalo sauce, sweet maple sauce with a hint of underlying spice, or the original style without sauce. Sandwiches topped with a blend of seasoned coleslaw and dill pickles served on a toasted brioche bun come with a choice of three sauces: original with house aioli (garlicky mayo); honey bourbon sauce with a mix of spices and sweetness; or a Korean sweet and spicy sauce. While all the chicken was devoured, my reviewers gave extra stars to maple chicken in the bucket and the honey bourbon chicken sandwich.

The sides at Buckets are crafted with the same attention to texture and flavor. Buffalo cauliflower poppers, still firm with a crisp crust, are served with a contrasting hot sauce for added zing. Smoky, faux bacon cubes add a flavor punch to otherwise mild mashed potatoes. Onion rings are fried with a beer batter that complements the thick rings and lets the sweet onion shine through. A rich green goddess dip, redolent of garlic and fresh herbs, was meant for the onion rings but I liked it so much I added it to all the other sides.

All the food concepts are produced at the same location but have their own names, personality and branding. Burger Boss has a classic feel for the true carnivore who wants Chef Jonny’s signature brisket, which travels beyond the classic burger into dishes like fries, egg rolls and lettuce tacos. Lighter options are also available. Taco 185 holds a novel place in the kosher world with its wide range of Tex Mex spices and bold flavors. Katz said he hears from customers that their one-of-a-kind Baja Fish Tacos have the best combination of blended spices and crispy fish texture. And of course, Buckets has that warm, comfortable, family meal vibe.

You can mix and match items from all the concepts at the same time. Go to each website individually to make your selections; the team will combine them into one order. If you’re driving for curbside pick-up, a GPS device comes in handy to get to 185 Humphrey Street in Englewood. The purpose of a “ghost” kitchen is to concentrate on producing excellent food across multiple restaurant concepts, so proximity to major access roads was chosen over prime visibility.

March is the group’s first anniversary after a whirlwind year of rolling out a new concept every few months. Sizzle & Smoke opened first with Pesach catering, and will be expanding its Pesach menu this year. The group has purchased property next door that will function as a Pesach kitchen. The menu, available on the Sizzle & Smoke website, includes soups, appetizers, entrees and sides that can feed up to 15 people. Orders must be placed by March 15. Regular menus from all the concepts will be available until Thursday, March 25.

Order from any of the concepts online: www.bucketschicken.com; www.njbugerboss.com; www.taco185.com; www.sizzlensmoke.com  and www.jerkybossnj.com.

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