The other day the missus suggested that I should tackle some indigenous recipes on Hand To Mouth. The kind of food that, for better or worse, the good ol’ US of A is known for. So this is the first of these American Classics, Southern Fried Chicken.
I’m no food snob. I love a bit of fried chicken. A KFC or Junior Spesh after a night out is one of life’s pleasures. But there’s nothing wrong with elevating it a couple of notches either. I use thighs for this recipe, as to my taste they’ve got the right skin to flesh ratio, and of course that tasty dark meat. I also use a good dose of not very traditional herbs and spices in the coating.
Buttermilk isn’t that easy to get in the UK, so if you can’t get it, some live yhogurt will do just as well. Lets get cookin’.
Ingredients (serves 2)
6 chicken thighs
For the ‘marinade’
1 pint (600ml) buttermilk
1 clove of garlic
1/2 an medium onion
Sprig of rosemary
Sprig of time
For the coating
150g all purpose flour
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
salt & pepper
1 large egg
Oil for frying (ground-nut / grape seed / rapeseed)
250g French beans, 1 large clove of garlic & olive oil (for the sauteed beans).
500g new potatoes, milk & butter (for the mash)
Salt and pepper to taste.
The first thing you need to do is ‘marinate’ your chicken in the buttermilk. The whole point of this stage is to tenderise the meat and to help keep it moist during the pretty intense cooking process. But it’s also a chance for you to get a bit of extra flavour into your meat. Note that the chicken will need to sit in the buttermilk for at least 6 hours, preferably over night.
Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl and then crush the garlic clove under a knife and add it to the milk. Chop the onion in to thick slices, smash the rosemary and thyme with a blunt object to release their oils, and then add them to the bowl too. Give the marinade a good mix, and then add the chicken thighs, making sure each one is fully submerged. Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
Later / the following day, take your chicken out of the fridge at least an hour before you cook it. After you’ve done this, prepare the coating. In a large freezer bag, combine the flour, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and the finely chopped rosemary and thyme. Give the bag a good shake so all the ingredients are properly combined.
Now, set your oven to 180c, then remove the chicken thighs from the buttermilk mixture, and wipe off the excess with some kitchen towel (discard the marinade). Place the thighs in the bag two at a time and give them a good shake around to get them nicely coated all over with the seasoned flour. Set aside, and then repeat until all are covered.
Take the egg, crack it into a bowl and whisk it until the yolk is combined with the white. Again 2 at a time, coat the thighs with the egg mixture, let the excess drip off and then return the thighs to the coating bag. Give them another shake to coat all over, and repeat with the remaining chicken. This double dipping in the flour will give your fried crust extra flavour.
Your chicken is now ready to go. Take a heavy bottomed frying pan easily big enough to accommodate the six thighs (if you don’t have a pan big enough, fry in batches), and fill it up about a half an inch with your oil. Get it good and hot, around 160c, until a cube of bread sizzles and quickly fries golden brown in it. Fry the chicken on both sides until dark golden brown. This will probably take around 4 or 5 minutes on each side.
By now the chicken will have great colour and a crispy texture, but will not be cooked all the way through. So place it on a metal rack (NB. not a baking tray or anything solid or the underside of the chicken will get soggy) and pop it into your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, or until you are satisfied it is cooked through.
Serve as soon as it’s out of the oven with French beans par cooked and the sauteed in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper, a rustic, skin on new potato mash, lemon wedges for squeezing all over the crispy coating, and hot sauce (for the record my favourite hot sauce of the moment is Melinda’s original Habanero pepper sauce – it’s killer).
And that’s it in all it’s finger lickin’ glory y’all. Sorry about the lack of pictures. I got a bit engrossed in the cooking process and forgot to snap.