Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spicy Extra Crunchy Fried Chicken

For the past I don't know how many years, I've been searching on-and-off for a fool-proof fried chicken recipe. What I am after is a flavorful (spicy actually), juicy (white and dark meat), crunchy, fairly simple frying recipe. Not too much to ask for, right? Apparently it is. I've tried several recipes and none, so far, has made my toes wiggle. (Your toes wiggle when you eat??) Ha, yeah. That's the latest phrase at the barefoot home. I was eating one of my vanilla-vanilla cupcakes the other day (after a long and stressful work day) and I mumbled on the last bite, "this is so good, it makes my toes wiggle!" And so thus a new measure of good eats has began.

So--I've got chicken fingers and fish & chips recipes that I really like, even getting the Korean fried chicken wings recipe down (which reminds me I need to do an updated post on that recipe). But the perfect fried chicken still eluded me. Until now.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching an episode of Cook's Country and apparently, they were after the same things as me. How fortuitous for me! By the end of the show, I was so tickled with their method, I started planning on how to make it spicy. I went online to Cook's Country and to my surprise, they had a "spicy" version of their extra crunchy fried chicken! The cooking gods must have been smiling on me that day!

Due to copyright, blah blah blah, you'll need to go to Cook's Country website to get their recipe. You'll need to register (for free) which will give you access to this season's episodes and recipes. But do it before the next season starts or else you'll have to pay for them. To sum up, the chicken parts are brined in buttermilk and table salt for 1 hour for a juicy chicken. The flour was mixed with 6 tablespoon of buttermilk, so the flour becomes lumpy (kind of what the flour looks like at the end of dredging a batch). The chicken pieces are dredged, patting down the flour lumps onto the chicken pieces, then fried starting at 375 degrees F oil temperature, with the lid on. That last part was a bit of a surprise when I first heard it but it makes sense. The oil will drop to about 315 degrees and will stay there for the remainder of the fry time. This will help create even browning.

I followed the recipe exactly because I wanted a good foundation to start. Here are the results (sorry the picture was a little blurry).

You can see how crunchy the outside is. I could tell (hear) I achieved the crunchiness goal when the Mister bit into a drumstick. But was it juicy? The chicken was very juicy, even the breasts (although they were creeping up to the dry side, but a little less fry time would fix that). Okay, but what about the taste? If was very flavorful, best fried chicken I've made to date. The cayenne pepper gave it a nice little kick.

Here it is plated up with a side of All-American Potato Salad. BTW, we didn't care for the potato salad. As an afterthought, I should have cut into one of the pieces and taken a picture to show just how juicy the chicken was.

On a side note, I am lactose intolerant and seem to have a harder time digesting buttermilk, even with lactase pills. My plan is to try brining the chicken in milk and salt (possibly even just a water salt brine), and then using whole milk for the flour crumbles. I'm hoping it'll work just as nice with the milk substitute not only for digestive reasons but milk is something I always have on hand. Good for last minute meal decisions!

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend. Now go and eat well.

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