Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fried Chicken Birthdays

Lauren Bridges
The Recipes of My Disasters

Fried Chicken

When I was a little girl, every year on my birthday, my mother would ask me what I wanted for my birthday dinner. As a child, and even as an adult, I tended to err on the side of gluttony. Pretty short, then and now, and pretty chubby, I knew early on that the best things in life were fried.
My mother likes to explain that the reason I love chicken so much is because it was always the cheapest meat, and therefore, as a young and tragically broke couple, my parents featured it as much as possible on the menu. I can’t tell you what was so remarkable about my mother’s fried chicken- no particular ‘secret’ ingredients, no ancient blackened skillet passed down from generation to generation, and no real reason or extreme technique for the specialization. Maybe it was because I got to choose, for my special day, but the minute she placed the first piece on the paper toweled plate, I knew that this batch would definitely be better than the year’s before.
Even at the ripe old age of 26, I requested that very dish from my husband. Fried chicken does not need to be fancy, and, most preferably, served on a paper plate. I have made billions of pieces for others at the restaurants I have worked, and sampled just as many pieces from all over the place. I firmly stand by my husband when he makes the outrageous claim that the best food comes from the gas station. I agree that the best fried chicken also comes from the smallest, the most out of the way, and yes, most often attached to a gas station, kitchens. It is difficult to replicate fried chicken cooked in a deep fryer at home, with ample oil in a skillet, but both varieties are special and delicious in their own right.

Chicken, cut into pieces.
Garlic Salt
Vegetable Oil

I learned this from one of my mentors, Alex Young. Soak the chicken pieces in the buttermilk overnight, or at least six hours. The buttermilk helps to tenderize the chicken. Make the seasoned flour by adding spices to the flour and mixing well. Depending on your tastes, monitor the pepper levels. Cayenne is super spicy, so be warned at the power in even a small amount. Take the chicken from the buttermilk, and place it straight into the flour. Completely coat the chicken. The buttermilk combined with the seasoned flour and the skin on the chicken will make the most delish crust, worthy of being picked off and eaten first, alone.