Over the years, my husband has perfected his ultimate birthday menu. Our entire family looks forward to the annual feast. 😉 After his approval, I do try new variations of a few items on the menu- with the exception of his absolute favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake.
I wanted to try this recipe because it is meant to be made in advance, served at room temperature, and made to travel for a picnic. This is ideal because his birthday is usually one of the first days of the year we are able to eat outside on our back porch. We also eat leftovers for a couple of days! The leftover chicken stayed crisp and was great at room temperature but we preferred to re-heat the biscuits the following day.
The fried chicken recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Tejal Rao, inspired by Masaharu Morimoto’s katsu in the cookbook “Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking.” The biscuit recipe was adapted from Sam Sifton’s all-purpose biscuit recipe, also from The New York Times, but is lightly kneaded so it’s not too tender to form into a sandwich. I modified the method and proportions. I also omitted the hot honey butter for salted butter but included the recipe below.
We ate the chicken sandwiched by a split biscuit with or without salted butter and half sour pickle slices. The feast also included Ina Garten’s Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Potato Spoon Bread, and green salad with Icebox Buttermilk Dressing. (and birthday cheesecake for dessert, of course) ❤
This dish would be perfect for a Memorial Day or Father’s Day celebration as well. Chicken breast meat can be substituted for the thigh meat, if desired.
Yield: Serves 10 to 12
For the Biscuits:
- 3 cups/450 grams all-purpose flour
- about 2 tablespoons/37 grams baking powder
- 1 T granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 7 T/100 grams cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 1/2 cups/360 milliliters whole milk
For the Fried Chicken:
- 9 to 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half if large (I used 9 thighs and cut the larger pieces to make 15), at room temperature
- 1 cup plus 2 T/170 grams all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp cayenne
- 3 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 4 large or extra-large eggs
- about 2 cups/200 grams panko bread crumbs, plus more if needed
- canola or other neutral oil, for frying (I used vegetable oil)
For the (Optional) Hot Honey-Butter and To Serve:
- 10 T/142 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 3 T honey
- hot sauce, a vinegary variety such as Crystal, to taste
- sliced half sour, fridge pickles, or dill pickles, for serving
- salted butter, at room temperature, to taste
To Prepare the Biscuits:
- In a bowl, use a fork to mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
- Add butter and use a pastry blender or a fork to mash it into the flour until the mixture resembles large, lumpy crumbs.
- Stir in milk until a dough comes together.
- Flour your hands, then gently gather and knead the dough in the bowl for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it springs back slightly to the touch. (If the dough is sticky, sprinkle additional flour as needed.)
- Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and rest dough in fridge for half hour (longer is okay!). (I prepared the chicken while the dough was resting.)
- Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
- On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch thickness.
- Use a floured knife or round cutter to cut about 12 biscuits, about 2 1/2 inches wide.
- Re-roll the scraps and cut again as needed.
- Place biscuits on a rimmed, parchment paper lined, baking sheet and bake for 15 on convection, or up to 20 minutes in a conventional oven, or until they have puffed up and the tops are slightly golden.
- Let cool completely on a wired rack at room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container if not using until the next day.
To Prepare the Fried Chicken:
- Trim excess fat and any membranes from the meat, then lightly hammer the thickest parts of the thighs with a mallet or rolling pin. Season each side with coarse salt.
- Mix flour, cayenne and salt in one wide bowl. (I used a glass pie dish.)
- Beat eggs in a second wide bowl, or glass pie dish, and place panko in a third.
- Dip each chicken thigh in flour, coating it all over and patting off the excess, then in egg, allowing extra egg to drip off, then in panko, making sure each thigh is entirely coated in bread crumbs, and using your hands to press loose crumbs into any places where they look scarce.
- In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, pour in oil to a 2-inch depth and heat to 350 degrees F. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet and clipped on a thermometer.)
- Fry 2 to 3 thighs at a time, flipping them with tongs over every two minutes or so, until golden brown and crisp all over, about 8 minutes total.
- Transfer to a wire rack set over a paper towel-lined sheet pan and season lightly with salt. (This step is very important in order to maintain the crispy texture!)
- Let cool entirely at room temperature, at least 1 hour. (I baked the biscuits at this point.) The sandwiches can be assembled after cooling or transfer the rack to the fridge and leave the chicken uncovered overnight.
- When both the chicken and biscuits have cooled (or the next day), mix together soft butter, honey and hot sauce until smooth, if using. (We opted for plain salted butter.)
- Cut or split open the cooled biscuits, smear each cut side with honey butter or salted butter, and sandwich with a piece of chicken.
- Top with pickle slices, as desired.
Note: If traveling, loosely wrap each sandwich in a piece of parchment paper and pack side by side in a hard container, in a single layer, so the sandwiches aren’t crushed. Serve with additional hot sauce and pickles on the side.