While I am technically a southerner, there’s nothing about being raised in Southern California that helps you make the perfect fried chicken. I’d only ever had fried chicken once, and KFC is nothing to write home about. It wasn’t until I moved to Vermont that I actually got a taste of southern fried goodness.
Vermont is a haven for new food ventures, and there are constantly new exciting restaurants popping up. When a southern restaurant popped up on Main street in the capital, it had me wondering, what is southern food anyway?
The answer? Wicked good fried chicken with the perfect extra crispy crunch.
One taste and I was hooked. This MUST be made at my house. How on earth do you get the perfect crunch out of the breading while still keeping the chicken moist and flavorful on the inside? As with most tricky culinary questions, Alton Brown had some great advice. Here’s the highlights:
- Start with boneless thighs because the dark meat is more moist and flavorful, and without the bones the chicken will cook though before the breading begins to burn.
- Marinade in buttermilk and spices. The cultures in the buttermilk tenderize the chicken and reduce the cooking time, meaning that you’re less likely to have raw chicken inside once the breading reaches golden brown.
- Double coat the outside of the chicken by removing the chicken from the marinade, dipping in flour, and then dipping back into the marinade before re-dipping into the flour. This double coating ensures thorough coverage and makes for a cohesive and crispy outside.
To add a bit of northern flare, I serve my friend chicken with a very simple smokey maple bbq dipping sauce made with our own maple syrup and smoked paprika.
Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken
1 to 1.5 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
2 cups buttermilk
1 Tbs. smoked paprika
1 tsp. garlic granules or powder (or several cloves fresh garlic, pressed)
1 tsp. onion granules or powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Slice the chicken thighs into chicken tender sized pieces and place them into a tupperware or ziploc bag, along with the remaining ingredients except flour and marinade 12 to 24 hours.
2 cups flour (approximate)
2 cups canola oil (approximate)
When you’re ready to cook, heat 2 inches of oil in a deep thick bottomed pan. I use an enameled cast iron dutch oven. Dredge the chicken pieces in flour to coat, and then dip them back into the marinade before you dredge them in flour a second time. (The double dredging is key to a good crispy coating.) Fry, turning once, until the coating is cooked to a deep brown color. Remove to drain on paper towels.
For a simple smokey maple dipping sauce, mix 1/2 cup ketchup with 1tsp maple syrup and 1 tsp smoked paprika. The smoked paprika has a surprising amount of flavor and is enough to turn simple ketchup into something extraordinary…
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