(All pictures in this post were taken by Alex Hsu.)
A few weeks ago, right after my Japanese-Style Strawberry Shortcake post, I got a message from my friend Alex asking if I would cook him delicious food for his birthday. He lives in Jersey City and I live in VA, so my first instinct was to say "Haha...good one...no." But, I'm a sucker for compliments about my cooking, and I like to feed people, so I told him I'd do it. I didn't think to run the idea by Dan until after I had already committed us to a road trip, but to his credit he just rolled his eyes and said "Guess I need to take some time off on Friday..."
When I asked Alex what he wanted for dinner, his response was "Meat. Lots of meat." Well. That's helpful. I knew he was inviting a bunch of people over, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't make it to Jersey City before 5pm, so my main concern was feeding a lot of people and being done with all the cooking by the time everyone showed up at 7pm. I knew right away that my sides would be chive-garlic mashed potatoes, baked mac n cheese, and roasted carrots -- they're easy to make, very filling, and I can pretty much put them on the stove and forget about them while I cook the main course. With those sides decided, it was pretty clear I was going to have to make fried chicken to accompany all those carbs. Alex was going to get a good ol' Southern-style birthday dinner.
Have I ever made fried chicken before this dinner? Nope. Is it a good idea to cook something totally new and unfamiliar for a lot of people on short notice? Not really. But hey, lets live on the edge a little. Fortunately, Alex's roommate bought all the ingredients a few days ahead of time, and our friend Andy was hanging around the apartment all day, so all I had to do was tell Andy to soak the chicken in buttermilk and we were good to go. When Dan and I finally made it to the apartment, I got right to work on the chicken. I tossed together large amounts of flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder for the breading, threw the buttermilk-soaked chicken directly into the dry mixture to coat, and pan-fried everything in very hot vegetable oil. I honestly didn't have high hopes, but the chicken turned out to be amazingly delicious. At least, the pieces that I didn't flip obsessively and actually cooked all the way through were delicious -- there were definitely some pieces that were kinda sorta really raw near the bone. Oops.
Thankfully, Alex ate the good pieces and was pretty happy with his meal. He had multiple helpings of everything, and that made me happy. But when he told me I should open my own fried chicken joint, I just laughed nervously and casually slid the under-cooked pieces away from his plate. What he doesn't know can't hurt him, right?
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Ingredients: (I sort of haphazardly threw ingredients into a bowl when I made my chicken, so these measurements are my best guesses for how much of everything I used.)- 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or, just a whole bunch of wings/legs/whatever)
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup garlic salt
- 1/8 cup paprika
- Lots of salt and pepper (I like my food salty, so I used a lot of salt -- probably about 1/2 cup)
- Lots of vegetable oil (peanut oil would be great too)
(1) In a large bowl, pour buttermilk over chicken and soak overnight, or at least a few hours.(2) In a separate large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients until well-combined.
(3) Fill a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet about half-way full of oil. Heat until very hot -- if you flick flour into the oil, it should immediately sizzle/bubble up.
(4) Throw buttermilk-soaked chicken directly into the bowl containing the flour/seasoning, and toss to coat. Shake off excess breading, then slide the chicken into the bubbling oil.
** The chicken should be mostly covered, but it's fine to have some of it peaking out above the oil. The longer you fry, the less oil you'll have anyway, and you'll be flipping the pieces eventually.
(5) Cook chicken until golden-brown, about 8-10 minutes on each side. Don't overcrowd your skillet -- 3 to 4 pieces at a time is best.
** I would say it's better to over-cook than under-cook in this situation. Do NOT flip your chicken obsessively like I did. Just throw it in there, walk away for a while, then flip once and leave it alone again. The breading will keep the meat nice and juicy, so it's fine to cook the chicken longer. There's nothing grosser than biting into raw/bloody meat near the bone...
(6) Set cooked pieces aside on your serving plate -- don't use paper towels or your chicken will be soggy. Keep frying until all your chicken is done.
(7) Eat immediately with sides of your choice.
** I suggest buttery mashed potatoes, biscuits, greens, and creamy mac n' cheese.
For other great recipe ideas, click here.