Date: September 5th, 2012
As the chef’s wife, I am in the unique position of taste-testing the dishes that come out of his kitchen. This classic-with-a-twist fried chicken is one of my favorites!
Gourmet comfort food? It might seem like an oxymoron, but once you try it, you realize it’s the best of both worlds: your favorite familiar foods elevated to the next level in flavor and presentation. And that’s exactly what this dish represents.
This dish starts with perfectly fried chicken: juicy, tender with crisp-battered skin. (Lip-smacking, finger licking – even with this elevated version, you’ll want to lick your fingers clean and that’s okay with us!)
The added punch of unexpected flavors (tangy pickled vegetables, mellow blueberry sauce, and a sweet/nutty corn flour pancake) turns this fried chicken from a familiar favorite into a dish with bold personality.
This is a great meal for a dinner party or family gathering. The warm, familiar feeling of a home-cooked meal is amplified by the addition of a delicate and distinctive collection of bold flavors, making it the perfect meal to share with loved ones.
See for yourself… the recipe has several steps and components, but don’t let that overwhelm you! It’s hardly as elaborate as it seems, and the results are well worth the small bit of extra effort.
The Best Fried Chicken (Ever!) – Serves 8
with Pickled Vegetables, Cornmeal Pancakes & Savory Blueberry Sauce
For the Brine:
- 2 lemons, halved
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 ounces flat leaf parsley
- 4-5 springs of thyme
- 2 ounces honey
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 ounces kosher salt
- 3 quarts water
For Frying the Chicken:
- One 2 ½ -to 3-pound chicken
- Chicken brine, cold (recipe to follow)
- Canola oil for frying
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup garlic powder
- ½ cup onion powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons cayenne
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
For the Pickled Vegetables:
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch on a bias
- 2 english cucumbers, sliced ¼ inch on a bias
- 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 6 ounces granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 bay leaves
- 10 allspice berries
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 small diced chile peppers
For the Cornmeal Pancakes
- ¾ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 ½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ cup red onion, minced
- ¼ cup grana padano cheese, grated (you can substitute parmesan cheese)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 eggs, separated
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 sprigs thyme, chopped
For the Savory Blueberry Sauce:
- 2 quarts homemade chicken stock
- 2 pints fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Brining the Chicken
- In a large pot combine chicken brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute until the salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat, cool, and then refrigerate until chilled.
- Break the chicken down into wings, thighs, drumsticks and breasts (save the carcass for more chicken stock), and cut the breast in equal halves.
- Place the chicken in the brine for 24 hours. When ready to use, remove from brine and rinse under cold water.
Pickling the Vegetables
- Combine all the ingredients, except the vegetables, into a pot and bring to a boil.
- While waiting for the pickling liquid to boil, prepare your vegetables and place in a large canning jar big enough to hold the vegetables and the liquid.
- Pour the boiled liquid over the vegetables and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate pickled vegetables for up to one month.
Making the Cornmeal Pancakes
- Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
- Heat the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion until translucent, remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and allow to cool.
- Whisk together the buttermilk and the egg yolks, fold in the cooled onion-cheese mixture. Fold in the dry ingredients.
- When ready to fry the pancakes, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into the existing batter, fold in the chopped herbs.
- Ladle into a heated skillet 2 ounces of cornmeal batter, flip when ready, keep warm until ready to use.
Making the Blueberry Sauce
- In a large pot on the stove begin reducing the chicken stock until reduced to 2 cups
- Meanwhile, heat a sauce pan on the stove and add the blueberries, when they start to burst, drizzle in the honey and allow it to simmer. Add the lemon juice and then add the reduced chicken stock.
- Simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend, season to taste with salt and black pepper. Keep sauce warm until ready to use.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer again when ready to use and swirl in the butter until it is dissolved. Taste again for seasoning.
Frying the Chicken
- In a large frying pan, heat the canola oil to 325 degrees F.
- Combine the dry ingredients together and then split into 2 different bowls. Add buttermilk to a third bowl.
- Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, then into the buttermilk, and then into the next seasoned flour.
- Place the chicken in hot oil for 2 minutes and then begin moving the chicken around to fry evenly for a total of 10-12 minutes, until chicken is dark golden and cooked thoroughly.
- On a plate, place a cornmeal pancake, a dark piece and a white piece of chicken on top, drape the pickled vegetables on the side and drizzle the blueberry sauce lightly over the chicken. Enjoy!