Whenever I have buttermilk I think of fried chicken, because it is the best base for a moist centered crisp coated chicken. You brine the chicken in it, then after rub the brining solution into the dredging flour to add chunks of crunch. My buttermilk came from the lovely Naomi of Myrtleford Butter Factory.
I love spicy fried chicken so my brine contains not just herbs and pepper, but also dried Sichuan chilli’s. As a brine there is naturally some salt but I also add honey. This adds a subtle extra dimension if left overnight or longer. Some chefs might also add sugar. I put it all in a snap lock bag in the fridge, pegged dangling from a rack, for up to two days.
When it comes to dredging I don’t use egg. The brined moist chicken pieces have the flour pressed onto the flesh. And because I Iove having lots of random crunchy bits, some of the brining solution is rubbed into my flour to form small tasty lumps that will crisp up as flavour bombs on the surface. In the flour dredging mix is plain flour, potato starch, paprika, dried homegrown thyme and parsley, more dried chilli, pepper and salt - but no glutamates like onion or garlic powder as some would do.
I use Milawa Free Range thigh fillets that are super tasty, so I don’t want to lose the integrity of the flavour by over complicating the crust. My priorities are a crisp spicy outer that reveals silky, tender, tasty, meat. The Milawa fillets are skinless and lean but due to the brining retain lots of moisture during cooking. No stringy, tough old bird here.
True to tradition I don’t deep fry my chicken. Instead I use schmaltz to shallow fry it in a heavy skillet until golden. Then it drains on paper towel before going into the oven on a rack at 180°c for ten minutes. As with all meat I rest it, for about seven minutes in this case.
This chicken was great served with a thick, umami gravy made with a reduction of homemade chicken stock and the rest of the buttermilk brine, thickened by combining a little of the schmaltz mixed with flour. But you could go also for a sweet, spicy,
Korean style sauce.
With this batch I made sweet potato chips in my Air Fryer and a crisp Chinese style white sesame slaw using cabbage, white carrot, celeriac and toasted sesame in a vinegar and sesame oil based dressing.
Each item offset the other for texture and flavour balance. The meal was neither oily or heavy but certainly had the requisite crunch, spice and necessary comfort food factor.