Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

There are very few things on the planet that compare to a meal consisting of fried chicken, biscuits and gravy.

This is one item that most of us wish could be on the menu at LEAST once a week. This meal has, due to health concerns, been limited to once or twice a month for most of us. But when I want to celebrate, THIS is one of my favorite combinations. I believe that life is too short to restrict myself from an occasional piece of chicken, a biscuit, and to top it all off, some gravy for the biscuit.

We must love fried chicken. The history of this dish goes back to medieval times. Furthermore, a Google search will net some 13,300,000 pages on this item. It is so popular that there is even a vegan version of this dish. That shows a lot of support for an item categorized under the topic of "Bad Fats" on the American Heart Association's website. Ok, so it is not health food, but it sure is very popular for an unhealthy food.

Biscuits and Gravy have been around a long time. The history of this wonderful combination seems to center around necessity.

There are also a three other things to consider:
1) The drippings from bacon, sausage and fried chicken are VERY tasty.
2) Earlier in our history there was an attitude about wasting anything.
3) You need to stretch your money as far as it will go - biscuits and gravy are inexpensive to make

To make the chicken, we need to look at what type of fried chicken you want. You can fry it with just the skin on it, low and slow. You can dredge it in eggs and flour and fry it. You can take chicken that has soaked in buttermilk, dredge it in flour and spices and fry it up. Today we will work on item number three - Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

Prep and Cooking Time: 8+hours for soak (the longer the better), 30 minutes to 1 hour to fry

Utensils: 1 wide, deep pan for frying (with lid, if possible), 1 metal or plastic container for soaking the chicken in buttermilk, quart or gallon plastic bag for dredging chicken, fork for placing chicken into bag for dredging, tongs for removal of chicken

Ingredients: 1 to 2 cups of buttermilk, chicken for frying, 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups AP flour, 1 tsp Tarragon, 1 tsp pepper, 1 and 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground oriental chili, or paprika, or cayenne (your choice), 1-2 quarts Vegetable oil for frying - I suggest peanut or canola due to better heat resistance

Trim up chicken and cut into pieces. Wash off pieces with COLD water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place chicken into a large metal or plastic container. It is better to have a large, flat surface here to conserve on the buttermilk. Pour buttermilk over the chicken. Lift each piece and roll around in the buttermilk to ensure even coverage. Place plastic wrap (not aluminum - this could corrode due to the acid in the buttermilk) over the container. Place in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
Once soak time is over, remove chicken from the bath and follow the dredging and cooking steps.

Prepare dredge bag by placing the flour, salt, pepper and spice into the plastic bag. I usually use a zipper bag since they are very sturdy. Place the fork into a piece of chicken and place it into the bag, remove the fork, fold over the top a couple of times and shake to cover with the mixture. Open the bag, remove from dredge using the fork and place in a single layer on a large clean plate or cookie sheet. Repeat for all remaining pieces of chicken. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before frying.

Place pan on stove. Pour in enough cooking oil to give you a depth of 2 inches. You CAN use less oil or a shallow pan, but you will HAVE to monitor the chicken more closely and turn it more often to give even cooking - deeper IS better! Turn the burner on to medium-high heat and bring the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I have cooked without a frying thermometer and reducing to a medium setting after the oil gets hot seems to work out well for me.

Once the oil gets hot enough, using the tongs, gently place 3 to 5 pieces of the chicken into the oil. DO NOT overcrowd the chicken, it will not cook evenly, among other things. You also want to watch the temperature on the oil - going above 375 will cook the chicken too quickly and may cause the oil to degrade faster. One item causes raw chicken, the other makes the chicken taste bad or requires replenishing the oil more often. Once you place the chicken in the oil, the oil temperature will drop, then it SHOULD slowly rise back to proper temperature. You want to avoid letting the oil temperature stay too low for very long - this results in greasy, not fried, chicken. Turn the chicken every few minutes to insure even cooking.

Once the chicken is golden brown (see photo), it is ready to pull. If you have a probe-type cooking thermometer, you are trying to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (be careful not to place the thermometer against a bone as this will give you a false reading). Use the tongs to pull the chicken and place it on a plate lined with paper towels. Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve.

Tomorrow I will cover how to make buttermilk drop biscuits. Until then, have fun, enjoy the recipe, and God Bless.

P.S. Check out my website at Crabby's Place

No comments:

Post a Comment