I’m currently on a bit of a culinary exploration of the United States and, as such, am inspired to talk about one of the most important things in life. That’s right, fried chicken.
In the southern states of Nashville and Kentucky where I was lucky enough to spend some time, it’s basically a blood sport. Who has the best hot chicken (fried chicken tossed in various degrees of hot sauce from mild to nuclear)? To brine or not to brine? How hot is your oil?
The principles of deep frying are simple: make sure you oil has a high smoking point (peanut, rapeseed or rice bran oil work well), and make sure it’s hot enough to create a steam around the surface of the frying object, which creates a crisp and less oily finish. Seasoning immediately after removal from the pot is also the best way to get the salt to adhere and gives it a little extra ‘finger lickin’ good’ factor.
1 medium sized organic chicken, chopped into 8-10 pieces
2 cups buttermilk
Sea salt flakes
1 cup self raising flour
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
Pinch of cayenne powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and then place in a bowl. Cover with buttermilk and refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove from fridge and sit on a bench, covered for 30 minutes to come up to room temperature.
In a large, heavy-based saucepan with enough frying oil (and room to displace the volume of oil once the chicken pieces are in), heat the oil to 190 degrees celsius. In a clean and dry bowl, sift the spices and flower together. Remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk, allowing the excess to drip off. Lightly dredge the chicken through the seasoned flour mixture and shake off any excess.
Fry the chicken pieces until golden and cooked through (between 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the pieces). Remove and drain on kitchen paper, immediately season with a pinch of salt flakes.
Serve with your favour hot sauce, pickles (the acidity is a good contrast for fried food) and a side of slaw, bean salad, mac’n’cheese, or all of the above.
Recipe by Melissa Leong, fooderati.com.au