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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with 11 Spices and Herbs!

So when my buddy got a new deep fryer, the first thing that came to mind was fried chicken.  Of course, we wanted to be more creative.  Maybe fish and chips?  Chicken tenders?  Fried frog legs?  These all came to mind (and some of these will be posted in the future), but fried chicken was the one thing that we couldn't pass up an opportunity to make.  If we are going to indulge in deep fried goodness, we needed to make it count.  Fried chicken is worth the artery clogging.

Normally I make my fried chicken in a cast iron pan or my dutch oven.  With a cast iron pan, I pour just enough oil so that the oil doesn't necessarily flow over the chicken.  With my dutch oven, I get lazy and just pour in huge amounts of oil.  With a deep fryer, well, you don't really have an option.  Any way you choose will work.  The secret is the buttermilk brining.  Do not skip this step.  It's crucial to not only give the fried chicken a tanginess, but it keeps the chicken irresistibly moist.

The next important step is temperature management.  If your deep fryer sucks, make sure you don't put in too many pieces of chicken in at a time.  You do NOT want your oil temperature to drop under 300*F.  That's why using cast iron (either pan or dutch oven) is great.  The cast iron has great heat retention so your oil temperature doesn't drop too dramatically.

To get this fried chicken recipe started you'll need:
-Chicken (I prefer thigh pieces only, but you can joint a whole chicken or buy whatever pieces you like)
-Flour (for dredging)
-Seasonings including salt, fresh ground black pepper, white pepper, paprika, cayenne.  Also you'll need dried thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, garlic powder, and onion powder.

I think I just counted 11 spices and herbs.  And yes, garlic powder and onion powder will work better than fresh in this case.  Same with dried herbs instead of fresh herbs.

As far as the amounts go, it's up to you and how much chicken you're using.  I prefer to go heavy on oregano, thyme, rosemary, cayenne and paprika.

So go ahead and get your chicken soaked in buttermilk.  Season the buttermilk with everything but the salt.  I like to salt my chicken directly and salt the flour.

Let the chicken sit in the buttermilk bath for at least 4 hours.  I prefer to go 6-8 hrs or even overnight.

Dry the chicken well and dredge in flour.  I made a lot of chicken (probably close to 4 lbs) so I just put the chicken in another container and threw my seasoned flour over the chicken and shook the container so the chicken is evenly coated.  Get rid of the excess flour by shaking the chicken.

How long do we cook it?  Until "GBD" -- golden brown & delicious.  Or if you need a time, deep fry for about 20-25 minutes at a starting temperature of 350, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165.  The temperature will drop down close to 310 and slowly rise up to about 315-325.  That's perfectly normal.  Remember, white meat will cook much faster than bone-in dark meat.  So the time varies.  Cook in batches if necessary.  My friend's deep fryer sucked so I was only able to cook 4 thighs at a time.  (Yes, it took a very long time to finish cooking everything...)

And you're done.  The result?  Tender, juicy fried chicken.  The chicken is definitely more tender than almost any fried chicken you've ever had.  The crisp skin will be wonderful.  I know you'll want to eat it right away but it'll be hot.  Very hot.  So I'd wait.  If you can.  If you can't... well... sorry.  The burn will be worth it though.

Look at how juicy that meat is.  Yes... it's worth it.