Thursday, June 17, 2010

We Share Everything in the South, Including Fried Chicken

So, I'm not sure if you've checked out the June issue of Bon Appetit, but there is an article that lists restaurants serving the best fried chicken in America.  To my surprise, dismay, and shame none of the places hail from the south.  Pardon me? Fried chicken is quintessentially southern.  Fueled by this article and inexplicable burst of southern pride, I set out on a mission to disprove Bon Appetit and make some awesome fried chicken.

Before I get into recipes, prep, tips and tricks, let me explain what exactly makes amazing, lick your fingers, pass the hot sauce, fried chicken. Great fried chicken has moist and flavorful meat, crispy and crunchy skin, and should not under any circumstance be greasy.  In order to meet these demands, thoughtful seasoning, hot oil, and proper draining is key.  Why? Seasoning is obvious, but often people season the skin and not the skin and the meat, so make sure you give it a little love. To add, if you attempt to fry in oil that isn't quite hot enough you will end up with a soggy, greasy mess and the batter will disintegrate.  And if your oil was hot enough, but you drain the chicken improperly, it will also lead to soggy fowl.

Okay, with that cleared up let me explain the steps necessary for perfect fried chicken.  Soak the chicken in a salt water bath for about 20 minutes, this helps draw some of the blood out of the chicken so that when you cook it, its not oozy and gross.  After the salt water soak,  marinate the chicken in a buttermilk brine for 8 hours.  The brine helps impart flavor on the chicken Imeat and skin) as well as add to its moisture, this will come in handy when you start frying.

After the chicken has soaked in the brine, its almost time to fry, but you still need seasoned flour and an egg dredge.  Pour 4-6 cups of  flour in a large bowl and season it as you like.  After whisking the seasonings together, take about half of your flour mixture and put it in a large ziploc bag, keep the other half in the mixing bowl. In another large bowl, beat half a dozen eggs (more or less depending on the quantity of chicken) to make your egg dredge.  See where I'm going with this?  This is also a good time to start heating up your oil (vegetable or peanut). I like frying chicken in an electric skillet set at 350 degrees, but really any pan deep enough to hold an inch or two of oil will do.

Okay, now that all of the prep is done remove the chicken from the brine and pat it dry. Take a piece of chicken, dip it into the flour in the bowl, then the egg mix, and finally in the ziploc bag and shake. Now place the battered chicken into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, and done all the way through.  I usually poke the chicken when I think its done and check for clear juices. Once cooked thorougly, remove the chicken from the oil and place it on paper towels for draining.  I drain my chicken on a cookie sheet, lined with paper towels so that the chicken on the bottom does not get soggy from chicken draining on it from the top.
    Although fried chicken is tasty, its not a meal on its own.  So I whipped up some bacon cheddar biscuits and a cucumber salad.  As far as the biscuits are concerned, use any biscuit recipe that you'd like, and add an additional tablespoon of baking powder, 2/3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, and 5 strips of cooked bacon to the dough.  The salad is even more simple.  Just cut up the cucumbers, tomatoes, purple and green onions and add 1 cup of white distiled vinegar, half a cup of olive oil,  and season with salt and pepper.  Voila, you have an awesome summer meal: 

    Hopefully, I've gotten everyone (including those above the Mason Dixon line) excited about delicious fried chicken and all recipes used for this meal are at the bottom of this post.  Although it seems like a heavy dish, you can lighten it up by pairing the fried chicken with a salad, like I did.  Or, for the full experience have some mac and cheese...and a pair of elastic pants.  Anyhow, I feel like I've vindicated the region, take that Bon Appetit!

    Summer Fried Chicken Dinner

    Fried Chicken:

    1 32 ounce container of buttermilk
    2 tablespoons kosher salt
    1 tablespoon black pepper
    2 teaspoons honey
    1 teaspoon paprika, pepper
    1/4 teaspoon chili powder
    3/4 teaspoon meat tenderizer
    1 tablespoon granulated garlic
    1/4 teaspoon, ground nutmeg

    Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and wisk until honey and salt are dissolved 

    5 cups of flour
    4 tablespoons seasoned salt
    2 tablespoons granulated garlic

    Whisk ingredients together to ensure they are all combined  

    Egg Dip:
    6 eggs
    1/4 teaspoons of salt and peper
    1/4 cup heavy cream
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Whisk all ingredients together, as if making scrambled eggs

    Bacon Cheddar Biscuits:

    2 cups self-rising flour
    3 tsp. baking powder
    4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    5 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled

    Whisk (or sift) flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening or butter, I use my hands for this. Add milk gradually, stirring with hands until a soft dough is formed.  Mix in bacon and cheese. Turn out on slightly floured board and lightly "knead" for 30 seconds, enough to shape. Roll dough to be 1/2 inch thick and cut with 2 inch floured biscuit cutter (or use a lid, coffee mug, or other round object). Bake on lightly greased sheet in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.   Brush with melted butter while biscuits cool.

    Cucumber Salad:

    6 sprigs of spring onion, sliced
    5 small tomatoes, quartered then sliced
    4 cucumbers, halved, seeds scooped, and sliced

    3/4 of a purple onion, chopped
    1 cup distilled vinegar
    1/2 cup olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

    Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and chill before serving.


    1. Um, can someone teleport us to that table right this instant? That meal looks fabulous!

    2. Aww, thanks guys. My family really enjoyed it, I also made a fruit infused sweet tea that they loved.

      PS: WOW, I'm super happy that you guys have checked out my blog, I love yours!


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