Tuesday, March 20, 2012

real-deal holyfield fried chicken

listen up, dear friends.

i will not apologize for shoving this crispy, crunchy, slightly spicy, juicy fried chicken photo in your face first thing in the morning. 

i will not apologize for all the oil that you are going to need to sizzle the chicken up in.

i will not apologize for the calories (oh, the calories) in this delectable dish.

here's what i will apologize for- i'm so very sorry for not making this sooner so that you can get it in your belly! 

because you must. you really must.

 let me walk you through the steps...

step 1- get some chicken, pour some buttermilk over it to cover, add some garlic, salt and paprika and let it soak in that for a day or two.

step 2- the next day, mix up the flour and spices, add the buttermilk and milk to make it crumbly and shaggy. press the chicken in that flour mixture, making sure to adhere as much of that craggy goodness as you can. you want it to look shaggy, see above. 
more shag = more crunchy crust.

you want that.
also, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

step 3- heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. if you have a deep fry thermometer, now is the time to dig it out of that disaster you call a kitchen drawer. dig deep, its bound to be back there somewhere.
step 4- gently (gently!) place a few pieces of shaggy looking chicken in the oil, set a timer for 5 minutes, cover and wait. if the chicken is getting too brown, too quickly, knock the heat down just a tad.

step 5- when the timer beeps annoyingly at you (if you have a polder timer like mine, you will know what i mean) gently (gently!) turn the chicken over, cover and set the timer for 5 more minutes.

step 6- take the chicken out of the oil and set on a baking sheet with a rack on top of it. fry the rest of the chicken in small batches. when the chicken is all lovely and brown, put it into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

step 7- let the chicken rest and cool for 5 minutes. this step is the hardest because the smell is going to be driving you mad. grab a beer or glass of wine if you must.
step 8- mangia!
we ate ours with a little rouille (mayo, olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne) i had made for the potato and kale cakes, but it would be equally delightful with a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce or a sweet little drizzle of honey. 
or perhaps with some waffles and maple syrup?

i mean, if you are going to be indulgent you might as well commit and do it.
note- i halved this recipe since i wasn't feeding "6-8 hungry ranch hands" and it made 6 delightful servings. i used 2 chicken legs and 4 chicken thighs.

2 cut-up fryer chickens
1 quart plus 1/4 cup buttermilk
5 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons seasoned salt (like Lawry’s)
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup milk
canola or vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl (or 2 freezer bags) add the chicken with 1 quart buttermilk (i added 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 tsp smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp salt to the buttermilk soak to get some extra flavor into the chicken). Refrigerate overnight. When ready to fry, remove chicken from bowl and let sit on counter for 30-45 minutes to take chill off.

 Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together the flour, seasoned salt, pepper, thyme, paprika and cayenne in a very large bowl. In a small bowl combine the 1/4 cup buttermilk and the milk. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and use a fork to mix until it has little lumps throughout.

Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat to 365F. Working in batches, thoroughly coat each buttermilk-soaked chicken piece with the breading, pressing to adhere the breading. Add the chicken to the oil 3-4 pieces at a time. Cover pan and fry 5-7 minutes, checking to make sure chicken isn’t getting too brown. Turn, cover and cook additional 3-5 minutes more. Monitor temperature of oil to make sure chicken doesn’t burn. Keep in mind chicken will finish cooking in oven.

Place chicken on baking sheet and continue frying rest of chicken. When done, bake the chicken for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

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