Fried Chicken

Fried chicken has to be one of the all time best comfort foods, right? I mean good fried chicken of course, not the stuff that teenagers pick at on street corners and then so thoughtfully leave the remains of on the floor of the bus. That stuff is clearly the beginning of the end for modern society, ruining appetites at dinner time, increasing obesity, destroying relationships, contributing to climate change and upping the chances of an imminent zombie apocalypse.

I think I came across the idea of brining chicken in iced tea in Bon Appetit, and a little light Googling revealed that it is most definitely ‘a thing’. I’ve come around to the idea of brining chicken since I wrote a (buttermilk brined) fried chicken recipe for my book 101 Sandwiches; it really does increase the juiciness of the meat and of course is another opportunity to introduce flavours. The thing to watch out for is over-brining, because that makes the meat obviously watery and frankly, just a bit weird. Get it right, and it’s fabulous.

Using iced tea just seems so brilliantly Deep South. It gave the meat a sweetness and flavour that was surprisingly complex. I modified my original coating recipe slightly and it all worked out very well indeed. The buttermilk jalapeño slaw is a must alongside as the acidity and bite of the jalapeños does great things in your mouth with the full-on fried chicken.

Fried Chicken

Iced Tea-Brined Fried Chicken

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (good quality, free-range)
1.5 bottles Lipton Iced Tea, original flavour (enough to just cover the chicken, approx 750ml)
1 level teaspoon sea salt

For the coating:

150g plain flour
1.5 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Oil, such as groundnut, for frying

Dissolve the salt in the iced tea and submerge the chicken in it. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. Drain.

Make the seasoned flour by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Heat some oil for deep frying to a temperature of 160C. Pat the chicken with kitchen paper, then dip it into the seasoned flour, coating well all over. Cook the chicken 2 pieces at a time in the hot oil for about 5-6 minutes each side, until the internal temperature reaches 75C. Drain on kitchen paper.

Buttermilk Jalapeno Slaw

1/2 white cabbage
1 large carrot
1 small red or white onion
2 tablespoons jalapenos, chopped (I used the ones that come sliced in a jar)
4 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice 1/2 small lemon

Use a grating attachment for a food processor to chop/shred the cabbage, carrot and onion finely. You can of course do this by hand too. Mix in the other ingredients, season with salt and serve with the fried chicken.

Savoy Slaw with Bacon and Walnuts

The crinkled heart of a young savoy is delicious freshened up with a dressing of yoghurt, mustard and lemon; raw brassica never tasted so good. This may be down to the addition of grilled pork and its fat.

I like this with mackerel; a freshly grilled fillet is nice but to be honest, on a school night, a couple of smoked pieces from a packet is often all I can manage.

Savoy slaw with bacon and walnuts

1 savoy cabbage, tough outer leaves and core removed and finely shredded
1 small red onion, halved and cut into fine slices
200g Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
100g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (by ‘toast’ I mean put them in a dry pan on a low heat and shimmy them around until they start to smell fragrant. Take care not to burn them).
6 rashers streaky bacon
Pinch of caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon

Grill the bacon until crisp and then chop into small pieces.

Mix the shredded cabbage, onion, bacon and walnuts together in a large bowl. Mix the yoghurt, mustard, sugar and lemon juice together well then add to the cabbage mix and combine. Season with salt and pepper.