In my last post, I shared how I, successfully, replicated Bacon & Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits with a Maple-Chipotle Butter. This time, I'm going to share how I made my first crispy Southern Fried Chicken, that I served with the biscuits.
It might surprise many of you that I've never made Southern-Style Fried Chicken. Truthfully, I don't make a lot of fried foods. When I was about nine years old, the first dinner my mother taught me to cook was fried chicken. She taught me how to season the chicken with salt & pepper, sprinkle some flour and cook the chicken in some oil. Easy Peasy. I don't think I've made that dish since elementary school, which goes to show that it didn't leave any kind of nostalgic childhood memory for me.
The same restaurant that inspired me to make their signature biscuits, serves a Fried Chicken dinner, every Sunday. From what I've read, reservations sell out fast--at the cost of $36.00 per person. After reading reviews, most people said it was the best fried chicken "ever". Ever is a word I take very lightly. Compared to...?
Anyway, when I calculated what our dinner tab would be, after adding a salad, side dishes (not included), and beverages/cocktails, I figured the tab would be about $100.00 for the two of us. For fried chicken?! Ouch.
My husband smacked his lips, at the mention of Fried Chicken. Before I knew it, I blurted out "I can make it for you"! His smile made me realize that I had just challenged myself to something new to me.
For inspiration, I checked out Cook's Illustrated and immediately settled on their "Easier Fried Chicken" recipe. For starters, their recipes uses 1-3/4 cups vegetable oil, as opposed to five cups of oil. This is a good thing, as I don't often deep fry things in oil. I also liked the idea of brining the chicken in salted buttermilk. (The buttermilk helps to tenderize the outside layer of chicken, and the salt ensures juicy chicken.) Win! It goes without saying that I spend a few extra bucks to buy free-range hormone-free chicken that hasn't been brined in who-knows-what.
If I'm going to eat fried chicken, I want a crunchy, golden coating. Once again, Cook's Illustrated has come up with a brilliant recipe. The flour is seasoned with the same spices as the buttermilk brine, and baking powder is added to the flour.
I used a 12" Cast-Iron skillet, bringing the oil to 375F. This is when you want to have a trustworthy digital thermometer. My therma pen has become one of my indispensable kitchen tools. Pricey? Yes. Accurate? Every single time!
It takes about 3-5 minutes, per side, to achieve a beautiful golden color.
wired rack set and onto a baking sheet. (I have three sets of these, and use them all the time. They are indispensable, in my kitchen!) The chicken is baked until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 for legs and thighs, 15 to 20 minutes. (Smaller pieces may cook faster than larger pieces. Remove pieces from oven as they reach -correct temperature.) Let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.
A printable recipe is at the end of this post.