Homemade fried chicken
(yes, I know the word homemade is redundant on a food blog, just let it be)
Have you ever had a craving for something fried, covered in batter and nothing else would do? No? It's just me?
Truth be told, I came up with the suggestion the day before we celebrated Nico's birthday and he went crazy for it. You see, I'd introduced him to the joys of KFC fried spicy goodness some time ago and he LOVED it.
But Cami, you'd say, why would I go through the trouble of making time-consuming chicken when I can just buy it in a bucket, with fries and mayo garlic sauce? Well, you see, I'll never be the kind of person to disparage fast food chains, 'unhealthy' food, or make myself or anyone else feel bad for indulging in some truly delicious desserts. I'm not high and mighty. I'm not one of those crazy healthy eaters, and I've never been attracted to vegan, gluten-free foods. Maybe I'll experiment someday, especially if I open a catering business. But this is home cooking, and most often on my blog you'll find ideas for indulgent, delicious, decadent recipes. You will always find regular homesome foods here. (yes I know that's not a world, every time I use one of these, let's call it artistic license) I will not skip butter, sugar, or anything delicious like that. Sure, you could enjoy a salad from time to time, but I am not here to make any apologies. Everyone knows what's best for them and what business is it of mine to meddle into other people's diets? I am a deep believer in minding your own life and not lecturing people about how they should live like you because you had a mind-blowing revelation about nutrition or vices and suddenly became the universal version of goody-two-shoes. RANT OVER. *bow*
That being said, the reason why I made fried chicken at home isn't because it would be healthier than buying it at a fast-food, I am not beyond that and I do enjoy some occasionally.
It's because, A, I love to experiment and recreate tastier versions of what I see out on the town or tasted in my life, and B, it doesn't exist in Finland, at all, for some unknown reason. (yep, you won't see any KFCs in Finland! And it's not because they are overly obsessed with healthy food, there are plenty of Macs around. sigh)
And so I embarked on a journey to make my own spicy fried chicken on the day before Nico's birthday and called it his first gift. I found a great, easy to understand and not too fussy recipe from smitten kitchen - I've been reading her blog from the beginning for a few months now and I really enjoy her stories about city life and her photography style. It's not often I see a recipe anywhere and I must make it, I'm pretty hard to impress. Although now that I mentioned it, both the blondie recipe and the mini apple pies that I made after the chicken were from her blog!
As per usual, I had a whole chicken in my fridge, like I do every week. I sent my boyfriend out to buy some buttermilk and that's it. Okay, maybe I also asked for some gummy bears. I'm not admitting anything! I love it when I want to make a recipe and I have most things in the pantry already! Alright, let's get down to business: here's how to make this amazing, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, chicken!
adapted from Smitten kitchen
Serves 4 or more (makes about 12 pieces of chicken from 1 whole chicken)
prep time: 20 minutes (if you have a whole chicken) 5 minutes if you already have it sliced
brining time: 2 hours
cooking time: anywhere from 30 minutes to more, if you don't have a big frying pan or you're mostly frying chicken drumsticks (if you have a deep-fryer, you're set)
for the brine:
- 600 ml (2 1/2 cups) buttermilk
- a good tablespoon of salt
- cayenne or chilli powder (if you like it spicy)
- a tablespoon of sugar
- some crushed garlic (not peeled, just bruised) - use however much you like
for the chicken:
1 whole chicken, divided into parts
oil, for frying
- 230 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 large egg
- 300 gr (2 1/2 cups) flour
- cayenne or chilli powder
- any ground dried herbs you prefer, granted they won't burn up in the oil
There's something quite satisfying about using a whole chicken. I usually buy a whole chicken every week for about 5 euros, and make 3 meals out of it, for economical reasons. But you'll find more about that later in the chicken trilogy series to follow!
First, start by getting the parts of the chicken that you need. I could explain how to butcher it, but it's easier if you watch an online tutorial on youtube ( I prefer the one by Gordon Ramsay)
It's not hard at all. In the end, you get 2 chicken drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 breasts. Cut the breasts into 4, and the thighs into 2. That should give you 12 pieces of chicken. However, feel free to cut the meat the way you prefer it, I liked to have smaller portions instead of big breasts. I was debating whether I should add the pictures I made here, but it's a big unsightly, so I decided against it. Obviously, a bigger piece of meat will take longer to cook.
1. Cut the chicken parts and set them aside.
2. Measure the buttermilk for the brine, and pour it into a bigger bowl or container. This will be the chicken's brining dish. Add the salt, cayenne or chilli pepper, sugar and the crushed garlic cloves. Mix it together, add the chicken, making sure it's all covered. Store in the fridge for up to 3 hours. 1 hour is fine, too. This makes a very, very tender butter-like chicken on the inside, so it's worth it.
3. Mix the buttermilk for the batter with the baking powder, baking soda, and egg in a bowl.
4. Mix the flour, cayenne or chilli powder, salt and herbs, if using, in another bowl.
5. Heat up a good amount (about half the pan) of oil in a large frying pan.
6. Drain the chicken from the brine, and start coating it, first in the flour mixture, then the batter, then the flour mixture again. Use tongs if you don't want to have batter fingers.
7. Fry the chicken in the pan, while avoiding to crowd it. I used about 4 pieces of chicken at once. You need to fry it about 7 minutes on one side, then 7 minutes on the other, but the drumstick will take a bit longer to cook since it's on the bone. Go with your frying instincts, make sure it's not raw or burned. Use medium-high heat and don't let the oil burn.
8. Drain on kitchen paper, and enjoy!
When you bite into it, you'll know it was worth it. Tender on the inside, delightfully crunchy on the outside, and definitely better than the one you find at the store. Just reading this I already want to make it again! It was soo good. Might I suggest a garlic sauce to go with, like aioli? It's surprisingly similar to the garlic mayo sauce you get at the chicken shop, but infinitely more delicious.
A little note on my absence: I have been around for the past month, which I can only attribute to early-blog burnout, tiredness, writer's block, and other similar afflictions. But I've been cooking lots, and taking lots of pictures, a skill which I am hopeful to improve soon. And I intend to post regularly once again starting September. In other news, I've been lost in this Murakami book I'm reading, and it's so good.
Have a good time!
*excuse the lack of step-by-step pictures, a little mishap with my photos, but they will be up soon!