If you follow me on instagram (kitchen3n), you’ll notice I went on a little trip recently! I had the opportunity to help organize a company retreat at the magnificent Qasr Al Sarab in UAE (about 2 hours south of Abu Dhabi). It was my first time abroad since having my kids so you can be sure leading up to the trip I juggled feelings of anxiety and excitement…but mostly anxiety.
As difficult as it was leaving the kiddos behind for a whole week, it was so refreshing and rewarding to immerse myself in work, in a new place, with faces that I don’t see often. The food at the resort was fabulous and plentiful. UAE is truly a mix of ethnic groups and it shows in the dining options. Traditional emirati dishes are punctuated by South Asian, Filipino and pan-Arab foods. Some of the most memorable items I had were fresh labne (strained yogurt), congee (chinese rice porridge with dried shrimp and soy sauce), stewed tomatoes, bbq beef short ribs, and mustard (yes – the condiment, a whole grain, fruity, spicy concoction) atop veal chops – ugh, it was heavenly.
One thing they did not have, was my fried chicken. That, you have to come to Kitchen3N for. My fried chicken is special in that I brine it in a buttermilk, salt and spice mixture that gives it incomparable tenderness and flavor (a nod to smitten kitchen’s buttermilk roast chicken). Then, to make it even more special, the coating it gets before hitting the hot oil is a combination of flour, bread crumbs and even more seasoning. Finally, I finish it in the oven on a wire rack atop a baking sheet because I can never seem to get it cooked throughout without burning the outside when I stick to just the stove top method. Thanks for the idea, Ina.
I don’t even know why I’m disclosing my secrets. Yes, I want you to have outrageously good fried chicken. No, I’m not opening a restaurant any time soon. I suppose these are good reasons for sharing.
I used to be horrid at fried chicken. I would impatiently put the chicken in before the oil was hot enough. I didn’t bother with the extra step of finishing in the oven so half the pieces would be pink inside. So now, when I make fried chicken, though it is a production with the brining, coating, frying, and baking, it is so worth the end result. I mentioned in earlier posts the immeasurable importance of a candy thermometer (pun!). It is essential in regulating the heat of the oil, as it varies so much from when all the pieces are just placed in, to when they are cooked, to when the pan is empty again in between batches. I kept my oil between 325 and 350 – this is optimal for ensuring the outside doesn’t brown too much.
Though I wish I could share a no-frills fried chicken recipe with you that didn’t involve more than 2 steps or kitchen gadgets, these were the things that I’ve found to set mediocre fried chicken apart from Ridiculously Good Fried Chicken. These are like Throwdown-with-Bobby-Flay Good Fried Chicken.
I served mine with some creamy dreamy mashed potatoes. But serve with a side salad if you are watching your carbs 😉
- 3 lbs chicken legs and thighs, skin on or off
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 3 cloves of garlic, halved
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsps salt
- 3/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne or chili powder
- 1 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 cup of bread crumbs (preferably panko)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
- 1/4 tsp cayenne or chili powder
- vegetable or peanut oil for frying
- Several hours or the night before cooking, combine buttermilk, garlic, paprika, salt and both peppers in a bowl or gallon ziploc bag. Combine well and add the chicken legs and thighs. Let marinate for at least two hours, but better yet at 6-8 hours.
- Pour oil into a cast iron skillet or casserole pan so the oil is 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Turn on the flame and using a candy thermometer inserted into the oil and attached to one side of the pan, bring the heat up to 325 degrees F. This takes about 10 minutes or so over high heat.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside. The wire rack is essential here because if you place the chicken directly on the baking sheet, the underside will get soggy.
- In a shallow dish combine flour, bread crumbs and remaining seasonings. Carefully take out chicken pieces, shaking off the excess and place into flour/bread crumb mixture. Coat evenly, 3 to 4 pieces depending on the size of your pan, and carefully lower into the oil. Regulate the heat so it doesn’t go above 350 or below 325. After 5-7 minutes, flip and cook until the other side is golden brown (another 5 minutes or so). Place on the wire rack and continue with the next batch.
- When all the pieces are fried and placed on the wire rack over the baking sheet, bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes check one of the thigh pieces for doneness by cutting right through the middle and ensuring that the meat closest to the bone is not pink and the juices run clear. If not done, stick back in the oven for 5 more minutes.