Fried chicken. Mmm.
It’s been on the brain for several weeks now. I’ve only ever made fried chicken once before, and the memory of that chicken has stayed with me. Of course, that particular chicken was also fried in a combination of butter and shortening flavored with country ham, which would stay with anyone.
Sadly, it’s stayed both in my memory and on my ass. Every time I have to lay down on the bed to button my pants, I think of that chicken.
I flipped through several books until I settled on this recipe from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!. It met all the requirements: bold flavors (chile, paprika, tabasco honey) and pan fried instead of deep fried* – I never know what do with all that oil.
The chicken got a buttermilk bath with some chile last night, marinating and plumping all day while we were at work. When it was time to fry, I poured some oil into the Le Creuset and put together a chicken assembly line.
Step one: Dry off the chicken.
Step two: Cut a hole in the box Dredge in flour seasoned with garlic, onion, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper
*I am a woman of few requirements.
Step three: Dunk the floured chicken back into buttermilk (fresh buttermilk, that is).
Step four: Dredge the milked chicken through seasoned flour again.
Note also step 4A: Wash your hands before you handle your camera. I mean, you’ll definitely remember this step. Or you’ll be smart enough not to handle expensive electronics while covered in flour.
The coated chicken rested while the oil heated up the rest of the way. There was a tense moment when I had to go to the bathroom, leaving the chicken unattended in a room with two devious dogs who have no compunction counter-surfing when they’re confident of not being caught, but we made it through unscathed and with chicken intact.
I gently lowered the chicken into 375-degree oil, cooking the drumsticks and thighs up in two batches. I had to work in batches because of the freakish size of these particular chicken pieces. Seriously, what’s up with cheapie supermarket chicken? Actually, don’t tell me, because I probably don’t want to know. Next time, I’ll go back to planning ahead so I can get higher-quality, non-steroidal chicken thighs.
Each batch fried for about 20 minutes; I’m not sure my thermometer is totally accurate, because the coating got a lot darker than I’d expected. To wit:
While the chicken cooled off a bit, I whisked together some Tabasco sauce and honey with a bit of salt to serve alongside
So this was good fried chicken – even Brian, who doesn’t really feel the same way I do about fried chicken, was picking at every last bit of crispy skin. The meat itself was perfectly cooked, and the Tabasco honey gave it a nice kick that gradually built up on the lips.
Sadly, it was not nearly as good as the Edna Lewis lard-butter-ham fried chicken, which is the fried chicken gold standard. And of course, the real test will come when we eat the leftovers cold tomorrow. So: judgement withheld.