Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sweet Hot Sauce

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Love. It’s a key ingredient in so many things, from happiness in life to success in relationships to the dishes that we make for the ones we care about. When I was thinking of the menu for the first of many ToGatherCuisine dinner parties and the theme of southern cuisine came to mind, I knew that love above all else would need to permeate every dish. And the most amount of love would need to go into the centerpiece of the main course.

There is no southern feast without fried chicken. On the surface, fried chicken is a dish that could be considered simple to make. You take chicken, toss it in flour and fry it in oil. There are a lot of people who make their fried chicken this way for a variety of reasons. I personally believe a dish that could be prepared so quickly warrants a lot more attention if it is going to be done right.

My Buttermilk Fried Chicken combines the many conventions of making this classic dish — from brining and marinating to the use of buttermilk and a number of dredging ingredients as the key agents in getting the skin of the chicken extra crispy. Fried chicken should be flavorful, juicy. There should be a crunch when you bite into each piece and most importantly, there should be a feeling of home. That is where the love comes in.

For your next gathering, southern-themed or not, if you want to share a dish with your family and friends that will leave nothing but smiles on everyone’s faces, try this Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe. It is the kind of dish that gets better with the more time and love you put into it.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sweet Hot Sauce

(recipe serving size – 10 pieces)

For the sweet hot sauce:

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup hot sauce (Franks)

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients in a small jar and refrigerate up until an hour before use.

For more of a sweet sauce, add more honey. For more heat, add more hot sauce.

For brining the chicken (this can be done a day ahead of time):

1 whole chicken, roughly 5 lbs, cut into 10 pieces (split chicken breasts in half cross-wise)

4 cups cold water

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 tb dried oregano

2 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

In a large plastic food storage bin, stir the spices into the water until the salt has fully dissolved. Place the chicken in the brine, making sure each piece is submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight.

For the dry rub marinade:

1 tb and 1 tsp kosher salt

1 tb and 1 tsp granulated garlic

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Mix the spices in a small jar. Drain the brine from the chicken. In the same plastic food storage bin, coat the chicken with the rub, making sure to get the spices under the skin of the legs, thighs and breasts. Cover and marinate for at least 4 hours.

For the breading:

1 qt buttermilk

1 tb sriracha

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 corn starch

1 tb old bay

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cracked black pepper plus 1/2 tsp

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp kosher salt

In a large plastic storage container or bowl, mix the buttermilk with the sriracha, 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper and 1/2 tsp kosher salt. In a separate container or bowl, mix the dry ingredients and the rest of the spices.

For the frying:

1-2 qt of canola oil

10 sprigs of thyme

4 cloves garlic, smashed

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a deep-sided pan, heat about an inch of oil over medium to medium-high heat. Check the readiness of the oil by dropping a pinch of the flour mixture into the pan. The flour should sizzle vibrantly without burning.

Once the oil is hot enough, place the thyme and garlic into the pan. Fry until the thyme is crisp and the garlic has browned but not burned. Remove the garlic and thyme and set aside on a small plate lined with paper towel to drain.

Place your first batch of chicken into the buttermilk. Shake off any excess and then dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. Gently place 4-6 pieces into the pan skin-side down, making sure you do not crowd the pieces. Fry for 6 minutes on each side.

Using a baking sheet lined with a wire rack, place the fried pieces onto the rack and finish in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 180 degrees.

Bringing it all together:

Place the pieces of chicken on a large serving platter. If you feel the chicken is still greasy or is still very hot, line the platter with paper towel to soak up the grease and prevent the breading from becoming soggy. Garnish with the fried sprigs of thyme and garlic. Serve while warm.


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