The more and more that I've been thinking, the more I've come to believe that fried chicken, mac and cheese, and biscuits is my favorite meal. I've been obsessed with fried chicken lately, more specifically Popeye's spicy fried chicken. It's consistently crispy and sufficiently spicy for fast food and though Popeye's mac and cheese is sub-par, their biscuits are delicious. It's amazing! I can have my favorite meal for 5 bucks!
Popeye's chicken is delicious espiecially when you have that fast food craving, but the chicken itself doesn't actually have much flavor. I've found that the Popeye's chicken without the crisp exterior isn't worth eating. That just isn't right. I sought to make it right in my home kitchen.
I was excited to test out an idea I had been pondering for a while. Does soaking chicken in buttermilk really do anything other than coat the outside in buttermilk? Can buttermilk really penetrate the exterior? I wasn't so sure. I think of it like soaking chicken in water. The water won't diffuse into the chicken unless it's a brine. Why not make a buttermilk brine to really instill that tangy buttermilk flavor in the meat?
I made a 7 percent salt, 5 percent sugar (honey) brine steeped with thyme, peppercorns and garlic. I used half buttermilk and half water. I used water to steep the ingredients then poured in the buttermilk when it had cooled. I then placed the chicken in the brine for 12 hours.
To fry the chicken, I resorted to David Chang of Momofuku's method. He steams the chicken then fries it at a high temperature for a short period of time. To try for some extra crispness I coated my chicken in flour and then a double layer of breadcrumbs (and even that didnt provide enough crisp). I'll have to try coating them in Panko and/or any other methods for maximum cirspness, but that's another post.
The chicken was overall a success. It was very tasty and had a definite twang that only buttermilk could provide. I wasn't sad when the crisp exterior was gone because the chicken inside was so moist and flavorful. I definitely plan to do the buttermilk brine agin.
The method however, is still in question. I want the crust to shatter, not bend when I bite into it. Another thing--I don't like eating the chicken skin with friedn chicken. It just gets mushy and off-putting under the crisp crust. I'll take that off for next time.
Also to come, experiments with biscuits.