Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Southern Fried Chicken

In the past year, Matt and I have made a conscious effort to purchase our meat from local farms when possible.  If not, we always buy pasture raised, growth hormone and antibiotic free meat from the grocery store. I hate to be a "Debbie Downer" but the factory farming of animals is appalling.  Do you ever see chicken breasts at the grocery store that are the size of a large eggplant?  Well that is not natural.  I realize it is difficult to look at, but I highly suggest if you are not familiar, do a little research on the factory farming of animals.  It literally changed my entire way of thinking about meat.

Lately, we have been buying most of our meat and eggs from Brunty Farms.  They are a sustainable farm located in Akron, Ohio.  Their meat is more expensive than the grocery store but we have made cuts elsewhere so we can know where our meat comes from. And you can taste the difference!  I think its because the animals have happy lives, an organic diet and plenty of access to grass and sunshine.  The best part is you can can make a monthly trip, pop it in your freezer and thaw the day before you plan to cook it!

And because I had this lovely little bird, I figured I would cut it up and make some fried chicken!  My mother would always tell me how her Grandma Budde would make the most delicious fried chicken every Sunday with a brown paper bag and a cast iron skillet.  No one knew her recipe but I like to think that this one is close.

If you have time, soak chicken in a salt brine overnight. You could even soak it in the buttermilk mixture as well.   Pat chicken with paper towels until dry.  This will make for crispy skin.   As you can see, this is about a 4 pound chicken.

I chose to cut it up myself.  It's not as difficult as you think and when you buy your chicken straight from the farmer, it is sometimes the only option. Use a sharp boning or chefs knife. Here is great tutorial video on how to do this.

Time to get everything ready before you start to bread and fry.  First up, heat the oil.  The herbs add great flavor.

Make the buttermilk mixture.

Season the flour in the bag.

Put chicken in and shake, shake, shake!

Remove from flour and place int the buttermilk.  I am a bad blogger and forgot to take another picture of the buttermilk soaked chicken going back into the flour but it is a very important step so don't forget!

Remove herbs from the oil.  Chicken should be sitting in the brown paper bag right now waiting to take a dip in the oil.

With tongs, place chicken into oil and fry on each side for about 6-8 minutes.

The temperature of the oil will drop to around 325.  This is a good temperature to fry.  It will provide enough heat to cook the chicken through but also make a crispy skin.

Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet.  Season with salt and pepper and place in a 300 degree oven to keep warm.

Southern Fried Chicken
1 3-4 lb. whole fryer chicken, cut into 12 pieces
3. c. flour
2 T. kosher salt
1 T. black pepper
3 T. garlic powder
3 T. onion powder
2 T. smoked paprika
1 T. dried parsley
1 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. thyme
1 t. oregano
5-6 c.buttermilk
1/4 cup sriracha
1 T. kosher salt
1 t. black pepper
2 sprigs of each fresh rosemary and thyme
Peanut oil for frying

**If you have time, soak the chicken overnight in a salt brine.  1 tablespoon of salt for each quart of water**

preheat oven to 300 degrees

Remove chicken from water or package and pat completely dry with paper towels.  If chicken is whole, cut into fryer pieces.  For the wings, I like to separate the drumstick from the wing and split the breasts for a total 12 pieces.  More chicken!  Set aside.

In a large brown paper bag (you might want to double up in case there are any holes), add flour, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, parsley, cayenne, thyme and oregano.  Shake to combine.

In a separate bowl, add buttermilk, sriracha, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.

In a cast iron skillet, heat about 2 inches of peanut oil and fresh rosemary and thyme to 350 degrees. Do not let the oil go above 350 degrees or the chicken will burn.

Working in batches of 4 pieces, bread the chicken.  First, place the bare chicken pieces in the bag-o-flour and shake to coat.  Remove with tongs, shaking off excess flour, and place in the buttermilk mixture.  Finally, add buttermilk coated chicken back to the flour and shake again to coat.

Remove herbs from oil.  Place chicken, skin side down, in the hot oil.  Remember that the dark meat will take longer than the white meat so it is best to fry the breasts and smaller wings together. Cook chicken on each side for about 6-8 minutes. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet.  Season with kosher salt.  Place in oven to keep warm.  Continue frying chicken pieces and placing in oven until the entire bird is fried!

Serve on platter with lemon wedges and honey.  Garnish with fried herbs.    

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