Thursday, July 11, 2013

Old-School Buttermilk Fried Chicken

In an effort to be both hip and timely my book club read The Great Gatsby last month. It was going to be, well, great. Cool, smart ladies reading classic fiction we hadn't looked at since high school, putting on lipstick, heading out to see Baz Luhrmann's much-hyped film, chatting it over with ice cold gin and tonics afterward. I could almost feel the cigarette holder between my fingers, not that I smoke, but we were just going to be that awesome.

But apparently we forgot. We forgot that we're not 16 anymore with endless summer stretching before us. We forgot the obligations. Work. Travel. Spouses. Pets. Kids. Oh, and some of us need to be in bed by 10 pm. So the movie never got seen. Not by any of us. And then it was gone. Out of the theaters while we were still making our great plans. Awful, right?

At least we still have book club. And this plate of cold fried chicken.
You know the scene? Tom and Daisy huddled at the kitchen table shortly after the accident, a platter of cold fried chicken between them. This is symbolic fried chicken, people.

In keeping with Gatsby, this is old school fried chicken - shake it in a paper bag and deep fry it old school. No Corn Flakes. No oven "frying". No rushing. Old school fried chicken takes time. First there's a leisurely herb-scented buttermilk bath.
Then a slow fry. Resist the urge to make your oil too hot or you'll end up with burnt on the outside, raw on the inside chicken. Nobody wants that. Keep the oil right around 325-350 degrees. Adjust the heat accordingly as you work. Don't speed it. Savor the process. Then eat the chicken. And remember, there's always Netflix
Old-School Buttermilk Fried Chicken
adapted from

3 pounds chicken pieces (I used 12 drumsticks)
1 quart buttermilk
1 large onion, thickly sliced
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh thyme
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Penzeys Black and Red Spice (or 1/2 tbsp cayenne and 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp seasoned salt
2-3 cups canola oil for frying

Whisk together the buttermilk, Tabasco sauce and cayenne in a large bowl. Toss in the onion slices, thyme and parsley. Place the chicken pieces into the mixture and marinate at least overnight (8-36 hours). Drain the chicken pieces in a colander.

Heat the oil in a large, deep, heavy pot over medium high heat to 350 degrees. Your oil should be about an inch and a half deep in the pot. 

Meanwhile, layer two large paper grocery bags, one inside the other. This is a great time to bust out the sturdy Whole Foods bags that you have stashed in a closet somewhere. Dump the flour, Black and Red, onion powder, and seasoned salt in the bag. Fold over the top a couple of times to seal the bag and give it a shake. Add the drained chicken pieces, reseal the paper bag and give it a few heart shakes to coat the chicken.

Working in batches, carefully place a few chicken pieces into the hot oil. Don't crowd them. Fry the chicken on one side for about 12-15 minutes then carefully flip each piece and fry the other side about 10 -14 minutes until crispy, golden and cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, or let cool to room temperature, refrigerate and serve it Gatsby-style. Cold.

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