A while ago I received some advice from a very surprising source. It was very sage advice about a house we bought that I probably should have listened to. A young rambunctious college kid said;
"You don't live in towns' with the word 'junction' in them. You drive through them."
My first trip to the grocery store solidified this, and I will never again reside in a town with the word 'junction'.
Even before entering and escaping The Junction I had learned to steer clear of 2 other words, fried and chicken. When those two words meet together in my kitchen it was a complete mess.
The term fried has always sent shivers down my spine. My grandmother had a series of very small scars all up her arm and I remember them telling me it was because some grease splattered while she was frying something. So naturally I was deathly afraid of a bubbling hot pot of grease. Those things can have a mind of their own.
Then there's that whole fried foods are bad for you thing. I mean if the hot pot of grease didn't scar me or chase me down the street, certain death by heart attack would.
We all must face our fears at some point and I decided to overcome my fear of fried chicken soon after I was married. I had a wonderful recipe all cut out nice and neat from my Martha Stewart Living magazine. I stepped into my 2 foot wide kitchen and began my homey meal by cutting up a chicken myself. It didn't matter that I hadn't eaten meat in about 6 years and found the thing atrocious. I used to help my dad slaughter the turkeys when I was young, I could handle an already dead one. After two hours, 8 pieces of unidentifiable bloody crusty chicken bits, but no scars, I felt a wave of defeat.
Over the next ten years I would muster up the guts to climb the mountain again. Oh sure the pieces of chicken were now at least representative of what normally comes off of a bird. But I hadn't mastered it. There was always something that just made it those 2 dreadful letters, OK. There was always something just a bit off. Too dry, not cooked through, crust was tasteless or falling off. I pretty much gave up and haven't attempted anything near fried chicken for about 2 years. My pride was squashed, I hated those words.
Every now and then there were some seriously promising turn outs. In fact I loved Giada's recipe for Pollo Frito when all the frying elements lined up perfectly in my kitchen. I suppose this recipe and the fact that I can't just let things go that had me in my kitchen once again trying to erase the stigma I have of those dang little words.
Wouldn't you know it took me to try and make it gluten free to finally get it right. I found the bits and pieces of all my failures that were actually good and put them together to form a gluten free fried chicken to rival any regular chicken.
So let's delve into my redefinition of fried chicken. Don't be afraid, I'm not.
First, to save money, buy a chicken and cut it up yourself. It really is very easy and they charge you too much money just for some cutting. Gluten Free Girl has a good video tutorial. Or a quick Google search and a bit of practice and you're good to go.
The next step is crucial for flavor and moistness. Place your nicely hacked up chicken into a freezer bag and pour in some buttermilk and a good amount of hot sauce (I like Siracha). Let her be. Leave it in the fridge for at least 4 hours but I usually do it overnight.
Even though you have a nice sticky goo going on with your chicken, the classic 3 pan dredge works best. In your first bowl mix equal parts sorghum flour and corn starch. You'll need about 1 1/2 - 2 cups total. Salt and pepper too. One bowl with 2 eggs beaten with a bit of water, salt and pepper. The last bowl has equal parts sorghum flower and corn starch with about 2 tablespoons tapioca starch as well. This one equals about 2 1/2 cups. I also add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to this bowl to create some air in the crust. A sprinkle of garlic powder and salt and pepper.
Now drain your chicken from the marinade. I don't pat dry with a paper towel because this is still good flavor, but they aren't dripping with the liquid. Cover them in the first bowl and knock off as much flour as possible. Lightly coat with egg and then cover them well with the flour in the last bowl.
Next crucial tip; let them dry out a bit.
I set mine on cookie rack and start making some potato salad and heating up my grease. This sort of gets your crust nice and friendly with the chicken and if your chicken is very cold it will bring it a bit warmer and help fry evenly. (If you're leaving it out for longer than 15 minutes you should refrigerate it. Salmonella may start lurking around).
Now we prepare our selves for frying. In my house this means every wee one must clear at least a 5 mile radius of the grease. Wee ones and hot oil scare me. I also use my handy dandy fryer/crock pot that someone gave us. They said it was good for camping.
This never seemed helpful while camping, but it works great in my house.
When your temperature reaches 350 degrees throw some pieces in the pool and let them be for about 6 minutes. Then flip them over and sit tight, it's almost time. After 12-13 minutes total gently bring them out onto a paper bag or paper towel and sprinkle nicely with salt. Oh the perfection.
It's a miracle. A fried wonder if you will.
Yes you need a biscuit now too. Go here for a gluten free one that is easy and wonderful and sits so divinely next to the chicken. Go ahead get some iced tea too and potato salad to top it off because we did it. We can say those words again with confidence and joy. FRIED CHICKEN! I'm gonna scream it on the mountain tops, and in my house outside the Junction. Now on to a new scary term; French Macaron.