Not very long ago my friend told me that Kentucky Fried Chicken was the most popular fast food restaurant in the world. I dismissed him immediately noting that nothing is bigger than the McMonster but KFC’s worldwide popularity did confound me. Fried chicken is one of those dishes that I love but can only bring myself to eat about once a year (for fear of dying of heart disease at thirty) and you can bet that once a year doesn’t come from a bucket with Colonel Sanders’ face on it.
Luscious, crispy, meaty, hot, salty, spicy. Fried chicken is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. If it didn’t make me fat, I would eat fried chicken in a dark room by myself every day for three meals until my fingers and lips glistened.
It’s kind of like cheating on your girlfriend. Once you start to think about eating fried chicken you feel guilty about how fucking bad it is for your body. Then you get a glimpse of it and then you get a whiff of it and it starts to seem like a good idea, and by the time you take that first bite you’re tearing into those golden breasts and thighs so hard you don’t stop till you need a cigarette.
This is a dish you can’t make for your girl because it will make her fat and she will think you are a slob. Make it for the guys, make it once a year and make it delicious by following a few simple steps.
You will need:
2 drumsticks and thighs (dark meat works best here)
3 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
1 cup flour plus 2 tablespoons
3 cups canola oil for frying
3 large Idaho russet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 and a half cups milk divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Begin by trimming excess skin from the chicken pieces with a sharp boning knife. In a medium-sized bowl, combine buttermilk, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and submerge chicken. Brine for one hour or up to overnight.
Make the potatoes:
Wash the potatoes and cut into one inch cubes. In a medium-sized saucepot, cover potatoes with cold water and toss in a child’s handful of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for twenty minutes. When potatoes are cooked through, drain and combine with two tablespoons butter, half a cup of milk, salt and lots of black pepper to taste. Mash then with a potato masher or a big spoon until they look like mashed potatoes.
Make the gravy:
In a small saucepan, melt two tablespoons butter and whisk in two tablespoons flour. Cook for two minutes over low heat stirring constantly. Add a cup of milk, whisking constantly until thickened. Add more milk if necessary and season with salt and lots of fresh ground pepper.
Fry that chicken:
Drain the chicken and discard the buttermilk. In a large cast iron skillet, bring the three cups of oil (or about half way up the pan) up to 325 degrees. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour and coat all the way around. Place skin side down in the oil careful not to splash. The oil should slightly sizzle around the edges of the chicken but shouldn’t splatter or pop, if it does, the oil is too hot. After about ten to twelve minutes the edges of the chicken should be a medium brown and the top of the chicken out of the oil should be moist. Flip the chicken and cook for another ten to twelve minutes carefully watching the heat. When fully cooked through, remove the chicken from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.