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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Butternilk Fried Chicken

Decided it was a good time for fried chicken, and since the entire family was gathering, it was time to really do it up, using references from many old friends, who have been gracious enough to teach me bits and pieces of Southern Cooking. These were to be fried in cast iron, shallow fried. Day one was to get the chickens parted up, and get them soaking in a butttermilk brine.

Buttermilk Brine:
1 quart buttermilk
2 cups water
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 cup kosher salt
1/8 cup fine turbinado sugar

Bring all items except for buttermilk to 165°F, steep for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Filter the herb tea brine and combine with buttermilk. Chill until cold.

Add chicken to sealable container and soak for at least 12 hours. Turn a few tunes through the soak.

After 12 hours, the chicken should be drained and allowed to sit for 15 minutes. Assemble dredge.

Dredged in Flour

Flour Dredge:
(for 3 chickens)
2.5 cups AP flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, granulated garlic, granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon ground clove

Coat each piece of chicken and lay in single layer on racks. Allow coating to cure for 15 minutes. Repeat entire dredge process a second time and allow chicken to sit on rack.

Frying in the first stage

Heat two cast iron frying pans, one to 315°F and one to 375°F. Fry three to four pieces at a time, for 15-20 minutes in the lower heat, and 5 minutes in the higher heat. Monitor the heat, as adding the chicken will cause the heat to drop. The first cook is to assure the pieces are cooked, the second is to get great color and crunch. Store pieces in a 200°F preheated oven. I use a heavy steel oven pan, with a rack in the bottom, to allow drainage and maintain the crisp texture.

Ready for grabbing

The chicken ends up quite tender and juicy on the inside, and true to pan fried chicken, is just as good the served at room temperature as picnic chicken.