Every spring, along with my husband’s special (made to order!) birthday dinner, I like to share part of the springtime experience at my house. In the past, I’ve complained about the goose families (with their beautiful goslings…) and the ducks who’ve seemed to chase them away. The new development this year is that my son (and husband) have been chasing the geese away with a drone!
The house finches returned but have moved their nest from our entrance column to the top of our propane gas tank! BUT… The extraordinary event this year was that we have had frequent visits from a very special Night Heron. What fun!
Well, onto the food. My husband has had little variation in his birthday dinner menu request for the past several years. Although I did repeat my caesar salad and vanilla bean cheesecake recipes (his true favorites), I spiced up the celebration by trying new fried chicken and biscuit recipes. This year, he asked for double fried chicken. After researching, I realized that this really means double battered fried chicken, not literally double fried. It had the most amazing crispy and thick crust with just the right amount of spice. The birthday boy loved it! We ate leftovers for days and never tired of it. Absolutely delicious. (He may even want it again for Father’s Day!)
The chicken recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. It did seem like a labor intensive recipe, and required planning in advance, but the chilling and resting times involved helped the breading adhere to the chicken meat. I doubled the recipe and pan-fried (instead of deep-frying) the chicken in Ukrainian sunflower oil. I also omitted the bourbon and used Sriracha instead of Frank’s hot sauce in the batter.
I served this indulgent meal with a side of creamy macaroni and cheese and with our new “Happy Birthday” fork! 🙂
Yield: Serves 8
For the Chicken:
- 4 tsp coarse salt
- 2 tsp light brown sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
For the Assembly:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup cornstarch
- 2 T garlic powder
- 2 T onion powder
- 2 T paprika
- 4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 T coarse salt, plus more
- 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 4 T bourbon (optional)(I omitted it)
- 6 T hot sauce (such as Sriracha or Frank’s); plus more for serving (optional)
- 2-3 cups sunflower, peanut or other vegetable oil, for frying
Prepare the Chicken:
- Trim chicken and dry on paper towels.
- Mix salt, sugar, and baking powder in a small bowl. Season chicken all over with salt mixture (you may not need all of it).
- Chill uncovered on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. (I let it sit for about 12 hours.)
Assemble the Chicken:
- Whisk flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, and 4 T salt in a medium bowl.
- Whisk egg, buttermilk, bourbon (if using), and 3 T hot sauce in another medium bowl.
- Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken in flour mixture, turning to coat and packing into crevices. Shake to remove excess; return to rack.
- Pour 6 T buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and work in with your fingers.
- Dip chicken into remaining buttermilk mixture, allow excess to drip off, then pack moistened flour mixture firmly onto chicken. Gently shake off excess; return to rack. Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
- Pour oil into a 12-inch cast iron skillet, about 1/2-inch deep. Heat over medium-high until a deep fry thermometer registers 350°. (I was diligent about maintaining the temperature throughout the cooking process.)
- Working in batches, fry two chicken thighs at a time, turning often and adjusting heat to maintain temperature, until deep golden brown, about 6 minutes per batch.
- Transfer to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain.
For the Biscuits:
This simple biscuit recipe is unlike any other I’ve made in the past. The dough is prepared and then rests at room temperature for 30 minutes. The result was wonderful! This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton.
Yield: Serves 8 Time: 1 hour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 T baking powder
- 1 scant T sugar
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 5 T cold, unsalted butter, preferably European style
- 1 cup whole milk
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
- Pulse flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor (or whisk to combine in a large bowl).
- Cut butter into pats and add to flour, then pulse 5 or 6 times until the mixture resembles rough crumbs. (Alternatively, cut butter into flour in the mixing bowl using a fork or a pastry cutter.)
- Return dough to bowl, add milk and stir with a fork until it forms a rough ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and pat it down into a rough rectangle, about an inch thick. Fold it over and gently pat it down again. Repeat.
- Cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
- Gently pat out the dough some more, so that the rectangle is roughly 10 inches by 6 inches.
- Cut dough into biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter. Do not twist cutter when cutting; this crimps the edges of the biscuit and impedes its rise.
- Place biscuits on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
For the Milk Gravy (recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman):
- 3 T fried chicken pan drippings
- 2-3 T all-purpose flour
- 1-2 cups milk (I used 1 percent)
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add pan drippings and flour. Whisk immediately. It should be smooth.
- Keep stirring until the mixture begins to brown, 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan.
- Whisk in 1 cup of milk. Cook until desired thickness is achieved- adding more milk if desired.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut biscuits in half and pour gravy over the top to serve.
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