Finger Lickin’ Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Every so often I crave buttermilk fried chicken something awful. But I honestly hate making fried chicken, or I did until I got a my Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator, Black. You see, the hardest part about making fried chicken is getting the inside cooked perfectly and getting the outside to a nice golden brown. But when you cook the chicken first in a controlled environment, you control how the chicken come outs. The meat is so juicy and the texture is perfect. And since the controlled temperature is exactly what you want the desired core temperature of the legs and breasts, they will never be under or overcooked.
Then we can add a wonderful coating with buttermilk, flour and the spices that you want and give it a quick fry in peanut oil. But instead of having to stand over hot oil while the meat cooks, now you just have to get the breading to a perfect golden brown. Following the five steps below, I can personally guarantee you will have best buttermilk fried chicken of your life.
Five Steps to the Best Buttermilk Fried Chicken
1. Brine Your Chicken – No Excuses!
Brining prevents almost half the moisture loss that naturally happens when you expose protein to heat. Without brining 30% of moisture can be squeezed out of your meat like a sponge, but a brine traps water in the meat, maintaining about 15% more natural juices. And through the science of osmosis, seasonings you place in the brine will also be deposited into the meat, giving you more flavorful meat. Want to know more? The science of brining is fascinating, and you can read about it at finecooking.com
2. Dry the Chicken After it Comes out of the Sous Vide
Some of the brine and the natural juices of the chicken will come out while it cooks. Dry the chicken thoroughly before breading. This will help the breading stick better and give you a nice crunchy crust. Cut breasts in half, lengthwise, so there will be more surface area to adhere your breading.
3. Double Dip Into Your Breading, Then Let it Rest
The key to a good breading is to build it up gradually. Start with a dry surface, dust with seasoned flour to give it a good foundation, then a dip in the thick rich buttermilk will guarantee the next layer of seasoned flour will really stick. But my favorite tip is to let it rest for at least 10 minutes, usually while you heat up the oil. This will allow some of the surface moisture to evaporate – ensuring an even crispier crust!
I love olive oil, but olive oil is not meant for frying chicken. It does not have a high enough smoke point, or in other words the point at which it will burn. Burned oil tastes bitter and gross. Don’t burn your oil. Neutral tasting oils such as Peanut, Canola and vegetable oil won’t change the taste of your food but also have a high enough smoke point to cook with safely. Because your chicken is already cooked, bring your oil to 375 degrees in a heavy cast iron skillet, I like this Le Creuset one. This will ensure the temperature is maintained and your breading will cook evenly and fast.
5. Say No to Paper Towels
While paper towels seem like a great idea to soak up any excess oil, they will actually cause your breading to get soggy. Heat your oven to the lowest temperature it will go to, and hold your fried chicken in the oven on a clean oven rack until you are ready to serve it. It can stay at this temperature for up to 2 hours!
This is not a fast recipe that you can whip out when guests come unexpectedly. But what you put into it in time, you’ll get back in delicious, juicy, crispy buttermilk fried chicken. What I do is brine and cook my meat in the sous vide, then store it in the sous vide bags for up to three days before I fry it. So if my menu calls for fried chicken on Wednesday, the majority of the prep is done over the weekend before. As for me, I served chilled Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Strawberry Basil Coleslaw, Light as a Feather Butter Biscuits, and Pomegranate Sweet Potato Salad, washing it down with Homemade Vanilla Nutmeg Root Beer for my husband’s birthday in the mountains of Utah. And it was simply delicious.