Friday, November 11, 2011

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

I may not look like I've got soul, but believe me, I am an appreciative fan of both the music and the cuisine. I particularly love the side dishes - okra and greens and beans, all cooked in a fryer or with a generous hunk of pork fat, naturally. Of course, eating this kind of heart challenging diet isn't something I often do, but, my boys are young and healthy and I believe in indulging children in cleanly made treats on occasion. Things like home baked cookies, Meadowbrook Farms eggnog and bacon from my favorite butcher shop, Falvo's.

Making this boy favorite meal is so easy that the most effective way to maintain its status as "special" is to make it with great infrequency. 2 or 3 times a year - tops. I cluster the occasions so I can reuse the oil and I try to coincide the festivities with an event that gets me out of the house for a day after the extended frying frenzy. I have convinced myself that the smell of fried foods nauseates me.

I initially made fried chicken when I found myself with leftover buttermilk after some baking adventure. Maybe scones? When I googled to get some ideas as to how to use the remainder of the .5 quart of buttermilk, my results leaned heavily to fried chicken. What follows is not a recipe, just what I do. Adapt to your own tastes, or like me, be a slave to your children's palates and go simple. Place chicken pieces (I like bone-in thighs) in a bowl and cover with buttermilk. Allow to soak in fridge for 12 hours to two days. Remove chicken from milk and drain on a baking rack over a baking sheet for 10 minutes or so. Heat up vegetable oil in a deep pot. Put some flour, salt, pepper and a couple of sprinkles of corn meal to add some crunch, together on a plate. White pepper and some paprika would be nice here, but the boys are still in a muted stage flavor-wise. It's ok, they're a bit of a longterm project.

Dredge the drained chicken in the flour mixture, taking your time to make sure the chicken is evenly and thoroughly coated. Test temperature of oil. I usually drip a drop or two of water in. You don't want spatter, just sizzle. Scientific, right? I cook the chicken, a few pieces at a time. Don't crowd the chicken! TUrn the chicken after about 10 minutes and cook for an additional 10 or 15 minutes. Since I'm cooking in batches, I usually place the chicken, on a baking sheet layered with a brown paper bag topped by paper towels, in a 200 degree oven to keep warm. Once that chicken comes out of the oven, beautifully brown, crunchy and glistening lips inducing, believe me, keeping it warm isn't an issue.

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