Thursday, March 10, 2016

Real Southern Fried Chicken

Have I talked about Fried Chicken before? In the five or six years this blog has existed...I must have...
Well, today...I'm talking about it again...How to prepare it ,even if you weren't born below the Mason Dixon line..

 Southern fried chicken is more about the style of cooking,rather than where you're from. There are so many variances (even among Southern cooks in the same region); it's all about choosing which tips make it a winner, winner, chicken dinner for you.

1. Cut the breast into thirds

Traditionally, fried chicken is left on the bone. While it's common to leave the breasts whole or to cut them into two pieces, many people swear by cutting the breast into three pieces because it cooks just as quickly as other pieces. It also guarantees more white meat pieces to go around, although with fried chicken, the dark meat is where it's at.

2. Buttermilk, baby!Buttermilk!!!

The best fried chicken is brined in buttermilk seasoned with salt and pepper (and sometimes other seasonings) for four to 24 hours. The lactic acid tenderizes the meat over time. This buttermilk brine also gives the chicken that authentic Southern "twang" — like our accents, I guess. If you don't have buttermilk, use regular milk.

3. Batter or breading?

Generally it's breading. Batter is more like what you get from Long John Silver's chicken, which is freaking awesome but not what most people think of when you say, "Southern-fried."

4. Hot sauce or cayenne?

Queen Bee, Beyonce aint the only one who has Hot Sauce in her bag swag!!!Either or both is fine, actually. Unless you are attempting a spicy chicken, it's just there in a high-enough quantity to add depth. If you have a sensitivity, you could easily try paprika, soy sauce or fish sauce (just reduce the salt if you use the latter two).

5. Other herbs and spices

Everyone has their own recipe, and unless it tastes bad, you're not wrong. Dry ingredients can usually go anywhere, but wet ingredients belong in the brine.

6. To MSG, or not to MSG

KFC uses MSG; it's part of the secret to their chicken's punch of umami. The reality is, there's no definitive proof that MSG is harmful to most people. I use it, but it's your call. If you're using soy sauce or fish sauce instead of hot sauce, you don't need it anyway.

7. Take a tip from Korea

Korean fried chicken is known for its delightful crunch, and the secret is in the breading and frying. Add a little cornstarch to your flour to get added crunch. Then fry it first at a lower temperature to cook the chicken through, and then at a higher one to amp the crunch.

8. Drying is key

After the brine, pat off the excess liquid before breading it. Then let the chicken sit out to dry (it doesn't take long) so the breading sticks. If you'd like to double-bread it for extra crispness, you can give it a quick dip in the same brine, then back in the breading, but make sure you dry it between each step. This will ensure as much breading as you like stays on your chicken.

9. Room temperature is best

It's best if your chicken is room temperature when it goes in the fryer. Cold chicken lowers the temperature of the oil more than is optimal for a cooked-through product and crispy crust. But keep the chicken refrigerated as much as possible after the other steps. Food safety first!

10. You don't need a deep fryer

In fact, I hate them. They're hard to clean and take up room as a one-hit-wonder gadget. I use an enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven, which maintains temperature well and will go to whatever temperature you want, whereas consumer fryers usually cap out a bit low for some applications. The enamel coating is optional (though I do recommend the cast iron); it just needs a heavy bottom and high-enough sides to hold the oil with the chicken without splattering everywhere.

11. Watch the oil temperature

The oil temp needs to stay as consistent as possible and just low enough to cook the chicken through and keep the outside crisp. Start with one piece as a test, just as you would with a pancake. Use a meat thermometer (not the same one you're using for the oil) to test for doneness. Be careful to not touch the bone, or you'll get an inaccurate reading.
In general, you want the meat temperature to be slightly lower than a perfectly done temperature, since the chicken will keep cooking as it sits. You can always test the meat temperature again and put it in the oven for a bit to finish. This is especially important if you plan to double-fry.

12. Say "no" to paper towels

Many fried foods can be drained on paper towels, and that's fine for some food. But draining directly on paper towels is the kiss of death for longer-cooking fried chicken. It will get soggy after a while. Instead, line a baking sheet with paper towels, and place your chicken on a wire rack over the sheet so the fat can properly drip off without soaking back into the chicken.

13. Remember what you like

Look, "Southern-fried" chicken is sold all over the world — it's even made an appearance in one of the final rounds of Masterchef Canada as an elimination dish. The important thing is that you get your chicken the way you want it. That's what Southern comfort food is all about. You want to throw some garam masala in the breading? Well, I can't say it's traditional, but I can say I'd like you to save me a piece....Hook a brotha up!

Enjoy!  Eat and drink well my friends...


Food Safety Tips
Protect yourself against food-borne illnesses.

1. Use a "refrigerator thermometer" to keep your food stored at a safe temperature (below 40 degrees fahrenheit).

Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria. Ensuring that your refrigerator temperature stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of food-borne illness. You can buy a refrigerator/freezer thermometer at appliance stories, home centers (i.e. Home Depot), and kitchen stores including online ones, such as

2. Defrost food in the refrigerator, the microwave, or in cold water... never on the counter!

Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter for longer than two hours because, while the center of the food may remain frozen, the outer surface may enter the Danger Zone, the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees fahrenheit, in which bacteria multiply rapidly. If you’re short on time, use the microwave or you can thaw meat and poultry in airtight packaging in cold water. Change the water every half-hour so it stays cold and use the thawed food immediately.

3. Always use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/fish and cooked foods/fresh produce.

Bacteria from uncooked meat, poultry, and fish can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. An important way to reduce this risk is to use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/ fish, and cooked foods/fresh produce.

4. Always cook meat to proper temperatures, using a calibrated instant-read thermometer to make sure.

One effective way to prevent illness is to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, and egg dishes. The USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures are as follows:

* Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks and roasts), fish - 145 degrees fahrenheit

* Pork and ground beef - 160 degrees fahrenheit

* Poultry - 165 degrees fahrenheit.

Cook meats like roasts and steaks to lower temperatures, closer to medium-rare, so that they retain their moisture. It is recommended that those who are at high risk for developing food-borne illness (i.e. pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems, or certain chronic illnesses) should follow the USDA guidelines.

5. Avoid unpasteurized/raw milk and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that are aged less than 60 days.

Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized (heated to a very high temperature for a specific length of time) to kill harmful bacteria that may be present. These bacteria, which include salmonella, E. coli and listeria, can cause serious illness and sometimes even death. The bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses. Raw milk cheeses aged 60 days or longer are okay, since the salt and acidity of the cheese-making process make for a hostile environment to pathogens.

6. Never eat "runny" eggs or foods, such as cookie dough, that contain raw eggs.

Even eggs that have clean, intact shells may be contaminated with salmonella, so it’s important to cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and the white are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees fahrenheit and you can use an instant-read food thermometer to check. Eggs should always be cooked fully and those who are at high risk for developing foodborne illness (pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems or certain chronic illnesses should follow the USDA guidelines. If you can’t resist runny eggs or sampling cookie batter, use pasteurized eggs. They’re found near other eggs in large supermarkets.

7. Always wash your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food and after touching raw meat, poultry, or eggs.

You can pick up a lot of bacteria out in the world, so it’s important to always wash your hands before you eat or prepare food. You should also wash your hands after touching any uncooked meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, as the bacteria from these foods can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce. Use soap and warm water and wash thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

8. Always heat leftover foods to 165 degrees fahrenheit.

The USDA recommends heating all cooked leftovers to 165 degrees fahrenheit in order to kill all potentially dangerous bacteria.

9. Never eat meat, poultry, eggs, or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables that have been left out for more than two hours or more than one hour in temperatures hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator or freezer for more than two hours they may enter the Danger Zone—the unsafe temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, in which bacteria multiply rapidly.

10. Whenever there’s a food recall, check products stored at home to make sure they are safe.

You should discard any food that’s been recalled because it’s associated with the outbreak of a food-borne illness. But, according to a survey conducted by Rutgers University during the fall of 2008, only about 60% of Americans search their homes for foods that have been recalled because of contamination. For more information on food recalls, visit the website

Cavier & Vodka
Courtesy of The Lady (Bug) of the Household