When I moved to the south there were a lot things that really surprised me. From the culture to the people, nothing was quite what I had thought it would be. Always for the better. I guess being a suburban kid out of southern California really threw my world view off more than I had thought. Among the things that I'll always take away from my time in South Carolina the foremost would be the food. Comfort food is an art form, a perfect balance of the unhealthy with the healthy in ways that were always delicious. Coincidentally, the spiciest pepper in the world is currently grown in South Carolina and with friends who loved to try the spiciest food they could I had the pleasure of encountering it a few times. It was brutal, but after that it was like my spicy powers leveled up and I had to have something really hot every once in a while.
So what does all of this have to do with fried chicken? Well one day I was asked by my roommates to make some fried chicken, only it had to be spicy, really spicy. So I dowsed it in cayenne and some Carolina Reaper hot sauce, fried it up, and we all laid on the ground crying in joy and pain. Since then I've fiddled and relaxed the recipe to not kill thousands of tastebuds per bit, while simultaneously pulling bits of knowledge from local grandmothers I met at the butchers shop into some of the best fried chicken this side of the Mississippi.
Step 1: Parts List
For this endeavor we'll need the following:
- 3 Chicken Thighs
- 3 Chicken Drumsticks
The Dry Goods
- 3/4 cup of cornflour
- 3/4 cup of rice flour
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon Paprika
- 1Tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
- Salt (to taste)
The Wet Works
- Yogurt or Buttermilk (amount determined by your container)
- Vegetable/Rapeseed/ Peanut or other neutral oil with a high smoke point
- Chili oil (if you're feeling sadistic)
- Cutting Board (Have one board for meat and one for everything else to prevent contamination)
- Container ( Big enough to comfortably fit all the meat with about an inch of headroom is ideal)
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven (or a thick bottomed steel pot if you haven't got one like me)
- Spider for pulling the chicken out of the oil
- Tongs to minimize handling the Chicken with your hands
- Rack and Tray for drying and draining
Step 2: Let's Make These Bad Boys
Our process can be broken into three phases to simplify things and help plan your time well
Phase One (The Protein Relaxer)
- (Optional) remove the skins from your thighs and drumsticks
- Place your meat into your container of choice
- Cover with yogurt or buttermilk so that none of the meat is poking out of the top
- (Optional) add chopped herbs and garlic on top
- Close your container tightly and shake a bit to make sure all the pieces are covered
- Let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum for 36
Phase Two (The Flavor Bomber)
- Remove from the yogurt or buttermilk and gently rinse off in cold water
- Pat dry and place on your rack
- Mix the rest of the dry ingredients in a bowl (With only half the salt included)
- Coat the chicken with the mixture (both sides)
- Massage it all into the chicken
- Add another round a salt to each side (My total salt usage was at around three tablespoons after this step)
- Let it rest for 15-20 minutes
- Put the corn and rice flour into a container or Freezer bag (unseasoned)
- Place the pieces into the flour mixture three at a time and shake vigorously to coat
- Return to the rack
Phase Three (The Frying)
- Around the time that the chicken is resting I like to start heating up the oil to ~375 F (175 C)
- Once the oil is at temperature add the chicken three pieces at a time
- Adjust the heat to make sure that the temperature stays at 375 (175)
- Drumsticks cook for 12 minutes
- Thighs cook for 14 minutes
- Shake off excess oil and let drain on a clean rack (or just wash the one from before really quickly)
- Brush with chili oil to give them a little extra kick
Step 3: Feast Like the King or Queen You Are
They're done! Share them with your friends or eat them all yourself, I won't judge. Add yogurt sauce on the side to cool the burning if you choose (an upcoming instructable for sure) or add hot sauce to get the endorphins really flowing.
A few parting notes remain to be said:
- Yes you could use an egg binder, but if your oil is the right temperature then the breading will stick just fine.
- Any starch technically works in place of corn flour or rice flour, but at a 50/50 split I've gotten the best results
- Should you choose to use regular wheat flour, avoid high gluten flours as they make the inside a little gummy
- Don't season your flours...ever. Unless it's with salt, and even then it's just not worth it.
- This is because pretty much everything that gives our chicken flavor will burn if it's in direct contact with the heat source. By seasoning first and then breading we give everything a layer of protection against the direct heat.
- Don't throw out the flour when you're done. It makes a pretty good pancake for the next day's breakfast.
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