Thursday, June 10, 2010
Yes, I'm back. Barely. No I wasn't on a cooking break or any kind of break for that matter. The list of backlogged recipe is growing. I've been meaning to post this for the past two evenings. There is not enough hours in the day for everything to be done is there? Did I mention there's work, the gym and chores? Then there's cooking, man-handling the dishes and editing photos. However, since the oven was installed we managed to bake three batches of the best cocoa brownies (EVER!) and roast a chicken. We even made dinner and ate in for the past three nights.
However, in this post, late coming as it is, I want to wax lyrical about fried chicken.
Who doesn't like fried chicken? I don't think I can be good friends with them. How can one not love to bite into the juicy, tender pieces of meat marinated simply with salt and a pinch of selected spice, to suck on the flavored chicken bones once all the last bits of morsels have been greedily consumed and when even the bones are licked to the point of exhaustion, to slowly, dreamily savor the light, crispy yet fluffy batter-coated fat-lined pieces of skin as the grand finale (at least that's how I do it, you know, save the best for last)? You read that last bit about the skin right? They sell these at roadside stalls in Penang but allow me to reiterate. Oh fried chicken skin, should you be the last thing I eat alive I will die happy.
I have never made fried chicken till now. I don't know what took me so long, considering how often I have to put up with mediocre chicken wings from that golden arch and for the past three years in Singapore, nothing from a certain famous western colonel which taste like anything from the same franchise in Malaysia. As for homemade fried chicken, my late father was not a person to easily part with his cooking secrets, so based on much of his bestest fried chicken I've had growing up I will have to attempt to guess out his recipe one of these days.
There was a noted but unfortunately not bookmarked Southern fried chicken recipe from an issue of Martha Stewart Living (I suspect many) months ago which I neatly buried in one of the two study bookshelves of Martha's magazine. While browsing Smitten Kitchen's archives during my week off last month I came across this and promptly went to the store to load up on a huge bottle peanut oil and two cartons of buttermilk. I halved the recipe since there were only two of us and no one sane would come over to dinner the day after I effectively burned a piece of oyster sauce slathered chicken. All but one piece of the equivalent of one chicken (I bought individual chicken thigh and drumstick parts since we don't like breast meat) was gone in about an hour after cooking. It was simply a blissful night.
Brining to flavor is genius and thankfully nothing untoward happened. That said, the greasy kitchen afterward is really no joke. The things I do for fried chicken... skin, cancer and extra kilos be damned.
Adapted barely from Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen.
I find that you don't really need that much flour to coat, so do refill your coating pan when needed. I would add more paprika, dial back on the salt (I wil actually advice this especially if not using kosher salt) and maybe add a little bit of five spice next time to see what would turn out. Perhaps not Southern anymore but hey, at least it trumps the franchised stuff.
- 2 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces each
- 5 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 2 medium garlic heads, mashed but not peeled
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 6 cups flour
Mix brine ingredients in a large bowl. Place the chicken pieces in brining solution and refrigerate for two to three hours. Remove and place on rack to air-dry.
Mix batter ingredients and place in a large bowl. Place coating in a large pan to coat chicken. Coat chicken with flour, then place in batter. Drain excess batter off chicken and place in flour again and cover. Use tongs for transfers.
To fry, heat peanut oil to 375°F in a wok filled to about two-thirds full. Working in batches, fry the chicken pieces for about 12 to 14 minutes on medium heat, turning once in between the total cooking time. Allow the oil to return to 375°F before frying the next batch.
Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan, keeping warm in the oven until ready to serve.
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