Herby-garlicky fried chicken

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My first time making fried chicken. In the same way that people celebrate daughter’s first dance recital, graduations, sweet sixteens, and passing your drivers license tests, I feel like celebrating for my first fried chicken attempt. I’m thinking I should get a Colonel Sanders style sticker and a hug from Paula Deen.

I mostly feel accomplished because in true Katie-cooking-style, the production of this chicken started a week in advance, with me subtly mentioning “fried chicken on Sunday” to my boyfriend Spencer. TBH it was a conversation elongator where I thought about chicken and word vomited the preposterous idea of trying fried chicken for the first time for a crowd on Memorial Day weekend. I should really know my lesson by now that if I’ve skimmed a topic relating to food, someone is going to call me out on it if I don’t actually get around to making it.

Sunday rolls around and no preparations are in order, so I’m thinking I’m putting this adventure off for another time. Both Spencer and myself have moved into different houses, don’t know where anything is, and now we’re set on making fried chicken. It’s in these circumstances you realize that if you forget about the crowd and focus on the dish, things MAY ACTUALLY come together. Well, I wouldn’t say that’s always the case, but in this situation, the results were pretty good.

Before I know it, I’m driving back to St Charles where, of course, I’ve left the most random of kitchen accessories that happen to be needed for our recipe, large marinating plastic bags. In the rush of an unpacking afternoon, Spence was able to brine the chicken for ~3-4 hours before I took over the cooking. I tell you all this because if you’re not intimidated by the behind the scenes work to a barbeque or dinner party, maybe you’ll be more inclined to try something new for friends.

I think there’s a few camps when it comes to entertaining – on the one hand, if you try something new for a crowd, you’re overwhelmed by trying to master the recipe and entertain at the same time, but oftentimes in my case, the trying-something-new is part of the fun of the night. Somehow, it-all-comes-together-at-the-last-minute is the name of the game, like the orchestra started playing a little too early and the curtain guy is reeling up the curtain while the characters are still getting positioned on stage.

In this case, I started my part while Andrew and William were already working their magic with some delicious avocado mac ‘n’ cheese and a blackberry strawberry kale salad. With little kitchen space, the three of us managed a meal of epic proportions without any major accidents, burned food, or overcookery of sorts.

I saw this recipe on an amazing episode of the Barefoot Contessa where Ina invites Tyler Florence over. In one afternoon (yes this timeframe amazes me as well), Ina and Tyler make a wedding cake sized birthday cake, homemade fried chicken, and take a leisurely visit to the local Hamptons farm.

In the case that you watch this episode, I’ll give you a sense for what you actually might be able to accomplish based on my timeline . I’d say you may want to just focus on this fried chicken, as we had to take a bit of time brining the chicken, then prepping the chicken, then returning to the store to buy more oil for frying. I’m not sure when they made this birthday cake but luckily it came together in one afternoon! Whew, to be Ina!

Here’s a few things that differed in our rendition of this meal. 1) Lenzie and Trent brought those amazing fake-cakey cookies with the themed frosting instead of having cake, 2) We kept to their use of bone-in chicken except for the breasts which Spencer deboned , 3) there was no visit to the local farm and 4) instead of having Tyler Florence help guide the cooking process, I had 3 twenty-something guys and 2 parents all pitch in!

I’m hoping you’re not intimidated by Ina’s spotless white kitchen, always-plentiful bowl of silver spoons, and lively-never-droopy blue hydrangeas. Make this for your friends and family and watch their episode at the bottom of this post if you have 1.99 to spare 🙂

Here’s a little snap of our cooking adventure featuring the crew: Andrew, William & Robin; the last few seconds continues with our MDW braves game visit…we ate fried chicken before we went so its all relevant right??

Tyler Florence’s Fried Chicken, adapted very slightly, serves 8-9 comfortably with a few leftovers

2 3-4 lb whole chickens, breasts de-boned, all other pieces bone in (thighs + drumsticks + wings)

3 cups all purpose flour

2 TBS garlic powder

2 TBS onion powder

2 TBS sweet paprika (can use regular if you run out of sweet)

2 tsp cayenne pepper (Adjust here if you’re partial to less spicy)

4 cups (1 quart) buttermilk

2 TBS sriracha or other hot sauce you like

peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying (we used a mixture of both since I ran out of peanut oil…make sure to buy one of the big jugs at the store)

1/2 head garlic, smashed, husks still on (this is for frying dont worry about the husks)

1/4 bunch fresh sage

1/4 bunch fresh thyme

4 big sprigs of fresh rosemary

fresh black pepper and kosher salt

2 lemons, cut into wedges, for serving

  1. A few hours in advance, or the night before, set up your chicken to brine. We used a big tupperware, but you can use a large bowl. Cover the chicken with water 1-inch above chicken. Sprinkle 1 TBS kosher salt for every quart of water you’ve added. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight. This is what’s going to make the chicken really tender.
  2. When you’re ready to start cooking, take your chicken out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while you prep the frying ingredients. In a shallow platter or deep tupperware in my case, mix together your flour, dry spices, and season with salt and pepper. We learned that you don’t need to add too much salt here, because your chicken already has a good bit of salt absorbed from the brining process.
  3. Pour oil into a heavy bottomed pot / Dutch oven, about 2/3 of the way full. Put your whole herbs and garlic directly into the cold oil . As these heat up, don’t worry about them burning, these whole spices are what will flavor your oil. Clip on your candy thermometer, ensuring that the bottoms of it isn’t touching the bottom of the pan. Heat stove to medium high heat, and start prepping your station as the oil heats to 350-375.
  4. Meanwhile, set your chicken to the far left, setting a plate next to the brine mixture where you want to dry the chicken before putting it into the buttermilk. Next set a shallow dish with your buttermilk and sriracha next to the chicken. Set flour mixture to the right of that, closest to the stove.
  5. Heat the oven to about 150,or whatever is its lowest setting. I wanted to do this to keep the chicken warm while other batches were still trying. **if your chicken is still a bit cold when you start frying, you may need a quick bake after frying to finish cooking your chicken. A few reviewers from Tyler’s original recipe noted this. Our chicken was at room temp so we didn’t have this issue and we only used the oven for warming.
  6. Set a sheet pan or 9×13 dish in the oven where you can set chicken after frying to keep warm
  7. As your oil heats up, start dredging process with a batch of two pieces. The first step is to dry the brined chicken off with paper towels. You need to do this to make sure the coating sticks properly. Next dip chicken pieces in buttermilk mixture, shake gently to remove any excess, and dredge in flour mixture. Press gently in flour to make sure you get all the crevices covered, then flip to the other side. You can leave chicken in this mixture before frying.
  8. Once oil is hot, gently place two pieces in the oil with tongs. Let chicken fry for 12 minutes per batch, moving around about halfway through to make sure nobody is stuck on the bottom of the pot.
  9. While you wait for one batch to fry, start prepping 2-3 more pieces. Also have at least 3 onlookers observe and ooh and aah over frying oil cauldron. Make yourself a yummy cocktail or mocktail
  10. After 12 minutes, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness if you have one. Chicken should be at 155 when it comes out, but will cook off a bit more than that after you take it off. Thank you Julie Mitchell for checking temp for me since we didn’t have a thermometer!!
  11. place done pieces in the oven covering with aluminum foil while you move on to the next batch
  12. After all the chicken is done, place on a plate and garnish with your fried herbs. Squeeze a few lemon wedges to taste and place a few other wedges on the side to garnish . Serve to hungry friends, and smile big after you savor each bite. 😀

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