Why’d the Chicken Cross the Road…?

Southern Fried Chicken

There’s no doubt that Fried Chicken ranks high on many people’s list of comfort foods. It’s certainly up there on mine. And yes, we know we know, it’s not at all good for us. Anything that comes out of a fryer is sure to fall short in nutritional value, but we’re not talking about fast food chains and frequent indulgence. We’re talking about a comfort food that requires some time to get just right, and moderation to help eliminate the guilt that tends to appear around our waistline. I’m not an advocate of junk food or unhealthy eating habits, but I am the ambassador for moderation. And this southern fried treasure is worth the pleasure.

Three criteria that fried chicken should satisfy is a) crispy exterior, b) juicy, fall-off-the-bone interior, and c) overall depth of seasoning inside and out. All too often it happens that I anticipate a mind-blowing sensation, only to be let down by an imbalance of those three qualities.

Though my years in Norway have been full of new tastes and new experiences, fried chicken, unfortunately comes up short. This finger lick’n dish has global variants from nearly every country in the world, except Norway. In the early 1980s, there were talks of opening a KFC, but those plans fell through. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t instantly associate the fast food giant with good fried chicken, but it’s hard to ignore a company with 19000 restaurants across 112 countries dedicated to fried chicken. Obviously there are some people who like their chicken.

It was this absence that made me grow fonder and appreciate it more and more. I’ve learned there’s so much more to it than just throwing some chicken into hot oil. At first I started toying with the different seasoning blends, then I moved along with different cooking methods, and finally I was able to put it all together by adding one last touch — the marinade. After five years of experimenting with these three elements, I had finally concocted a fried chicken recipe I’d been searching for my entire life.

Now when it comes to side dishes that’s up to you. I took a more southern approach with mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread muffins, and I substituted the traditional collard greens with crispy kale chips rubbed in rendered bacon oil. French fries, coleslaw, macaroni salad, mac and cheese, baked beans, potato salad, and various other leafy green salads are all common side dishes with fried chicken.

Extra Crispy Fried Chicken:fried chicken

Now before we get started, here’s the secret ingredient and technique to super crispy chicken: rice flour.

Half of the flour mix should contain this very fine gluten-free rice flour. It’s the same flour used in Asian cooking and in particular, Japanese tempura.

The technique to remember is when frying the chicken, start high then turn the heat down to low. After 180C the rice flour crystallizes, giving you that superior crispy coating. Then immediately turn down the heat so that the chicken doesn’t brown too quickly. That way, the interior will cook all the way through. When that coating develops, it will act as a barrier to all the internal juices. Oil will not seep into the meat, yet it will actually cook in its own juices. We won’t use all rice flour, because although it will certainly be crispy, the chicken will fall flat in overall texture and flavor. After all, it is the all-purpose flour that cooks to a golden brown and gives us that well-rounded taste. Rice flour is too neutral in flavor to give us that same effect.

With that secret out of the way, go ahead and resume if you’d like.

First thing’s first, let’s prepare the buttermilk marinade. This step is crucial for delectable juicy chicken.

Buttermilk Marinade

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1 liter buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp msg
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 2 frying chickens

In a large bowl with a sealable cover, combine all the ingredients, except for the chickens, and stir well.

Next, break down the chickens into 4 legs, 4 thighs, 4 breasts, and 4 wings if the wings haven’t already been clipped.

Rinse the chicken pieces off in cold water and add to the marinade. Seal and store in refrigerator overnight.

When the chicken has finished marinating, it’s time to fry.

Fried Chicken Coating Blend

  • Servings: Coats 12 pieces
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp msg
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Combine ingredients and store in an air-tight container until needed.

Frying the Chicken:

In a fryer or large pot, pour 2 liters of sunflower or soybean oil and heat to 180C.

In a large Zip-Loc or paper bag, combine all dry ingredients and shake to blend.

Knock any excess marinade off the chicken, but don’t wipe it clean. Add the chicken to the seasoned flour. Shake the bag to completely dredge the chicken. Keep in bag until oil is fully heated. Shake excess flour off before dropping into oil.

Fry chicken in small batches. When the chicken goes into the oil, the temperature will drop. Turn the heat down to 160C and cook for 12-15 minutes, 3-4 minutes longer for breasts.

Place fried chicken on a wire rack to allow excess oil to drip through.

Cornbread Muffins

Cornbread Muffins

  • Servings: 8 Lg. or 12 Medium
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup cornmeal/polenta
  • 1 cup corn flour (masa harina)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup (or honey or maple syrup)
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180C.

Measure dry ingredients into a bowl.

In a large second bowl, combine buttermilk, corn syrup, melted butter, and eggs. Mix well.

Incorporate dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until smooth.

Pour batter into greased and lined muffin tins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

To test for doneness, lightly press the top of the muffin with your finger. If the muffin top springs back, the muffins are finished. If your finger leaves an indent bake for another 5 minutes, then check again.

Crispy Kale Chips

Crispy Kale Chips

  • Servings: Makes 1 Basket of Chips
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 150g Kale
  • 1 tbsp rendered bacon fat (or olive oil)
  • Kosher or sea salt, to season

For the crispy kale chips, rinse the kale very well, then pat dry with paper towel. Be sure to get all the moisture.

Rip the leaves from the stem and place on a baking sheet. Do not overcrowd them. Discard the stems.

Lightly coat the leaves in oil, rubbing each leaf to cover the entire surface, front and back.

Sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 150C for 12-15 minutes. If the leaves start to darken, turn down the heat. Burnt kale leaves are extremely bitter. When the kale chips are done, the leaves should be crispy and very brittle.

Putting It All Together:

Now you have your fried chicken, corn muffins, and crispy kale chips. Select a potato of your choice and prepare as desired. For mashed potatoes, I like to add butter, cream cheese, and just a sprinkle of parmesan for the ultimate creamy and flavorful mash.

Feel free to check out my post on Poutine for a recipe for a rich silky gravy as well as crispy french fries.

fried chicken final2

Y’all come back now, ya hear!

7 thoughts on “Why’d the Chicken Cross the Road…?

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