Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunday Favorite

Okay. So my last two posts have been about fried foods; check out the blue cheese potato chips and fried catfish if you haven't seen them. I've posted about fried chicken before, but now I'm revisiting it. (Once you break out oil, you tend to fry a whole lot of stuff.) This is the recipe I use when I have time to plan ahead -- buttermilk brined fried chicken. Believe it or not, this works with boneless skinless chicken breasts, which I almost always have on hand.

Grab a container for the soak. My favorite is my 8-cup measuring cup. Dump some salt in the bottom. I never measure, so I can't tell you how much. If you need precise measurements, check out Cook's Illustrated's Ultimate Crispy Fried Chicken recipe. Throw in some spices or use an all-purpose seasoning like Tony Chachere's. Add some freshly smashed garlic. I also add fresh herbs (lots of them). Add your buttermilk and stir well (you want to dissolve the salt.)

Drop in the chicken breasts and refrigerate for at least four hours. I let mine sit for eight hours and the flavor was unbelievable!

Now, pull the chicken from the brine and shake of any excess liquid. Dip into seasoned flour (don't add salt.) Shake off any excess flour. Dip it back into the buttermilk brine and then back into the flour. This double-dipping is worth it.

Now, let the chicken rest on a wire rack for 30 minutes. This helps the adhere to the meat and gives you that crispy crunch. The longer you let it sit (refrigerated of course), the crunchier your chicken will be. Check again with Cook's Illustrated to see what the max air drying time is. This time, I went straight to the skillet after dipping. There's no difference in taste. I think you do lose more of the flour to the bottom of the skillet when you don't let the chicken air dry.

Now, heat your oil. I didn't use a thermometer. I just add a pinch of flour to the oil and watch it fry. If it sinks to the bottom, the oil is too cold. If it burns to a crisp, the oil too hot. When the oil is right, carefully add the chicken to the pan. DO NOT MOVE IT AROUND!!! Fry until golden brown on the bottom, flip and fry the other side. The second side will cook faster.

Drain on a cooling rack or go old school and place the chicken on some paper towels.

Isn't that beautiful??!!
Leftovers note: This chicken is amazingly good cold out of the refrigerator the next day! When I have this as leftovers, I never reheat it. It even stays crispy after days in the fridge.
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