For those hoping for a photo of my fried chicken, sorry, I was so caught up in the moment that I didn't have time to take even one photo. It was that good. :-)
Some of you may remember that I brought curry-spiced fried chicken to last year's SF Chowhound Picnic. I spent a few weeks tweaking the recipe and experimenting w/ criteria like brining, buttermilk soak, spicing, frying method, etc. My final method is outlined in this post here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
While that method was perfectly fine, it does take some preparation since I dry brined the chicken for 1-2 days, soaked in coconut milk for several hours, and let dry up in fridge after breading. What I discovered yesterday is that great fried chicken doesn't have to be so freakin' complicated! I love such epiphanies...
It was one of those relaxed days where we had some friends over for a day outing and allowed the day to unfold w/o much planning. Around late afternoon, we all decided to extend our day into the evening and spend dinner together. Naturally, we reached that crossroad of having to decide between cooking and eating in vs. going out somewhere. Since my palate was tired from eating out recently, I volunteered to cook dinner...something simple and summery.
I returned from grocery shopping at 6pm and we sat down to a nice fried chicken dinner by just shy of 8pm. Here's how I cut down on time:
1. I had my butcher cut the whole 3.75 lb. chicken into 8 pieces. This meant I only had to cut the breasts in half before proceeding.
2. I soaked in buttermilk and a little Tabasco (I opted for southern-style instead of my curry-spiced) for about 30 min.
3. After the short soak, I then seasoned the pieces w/ S&P. I then dipped in another coating of buttermilk and dredged in the flour, panko, cayenne, and salt mixture. I let set up in fridge for 20-30 min. while I prepped the sides.
I then fried in two batches in my new Le Creuset 7.25 qt. round oven. I was a little worried that the high sides would undermine crisping or not be the ideal frying environment, but it performed beautifully and proved itself as magical cookware worth every penny! Heat was distributed very evenly and remained very stable throughout. Better than my cast iron skillet.
The savory, slightly spicy crust was thick and crispy and adhered to the chicken well; I was worried that it might scatter once it hit the oil, but no. The chicken flesh was incredibly juicy and moist (even the breasts!), but retained a firmness that seems to be undermined w/ longer soaking time. All in all, I preferred the results of this no-muss, no-fuss method to my previous one. Now that it's this easy, I will surely make this more often!
Served this w/ a salad of jicama, cucumber, radish, Valencia orange, and cilantro, as well as ears of yellow corn grilled in their husks and then dusted at the table w/ Penzeys chipotle powder. Lagunitas Crispy Summer Ale paired well w/ the chicken. For dessert, we had organic strawberries (from Swanton Farm) briefly macerated in orange zest, fresh mint, and tiny bit of sugar. Served w/ softly-whipped cream, it was a lovely finish to this spontaneous summer meal.