Monday, February 20, 2012
Fried Chicken. International Bird of Mystery
Sometimes checkout lines are a great source of inspiration. I'll see something interesting on the cover of a food magazine, then rush through to find the article. Often they're more a couple of paragraphs, so really not worth coughing up my hard-earned valuta. So I scan the ingredients and techniques then run home to use them in a recipe.
This time, it was an alternate way to make fried chicken. The pieces are salted and seasoned, but not brined. No buttermilk touches them until it's time to dredge them in flour. The result of salting instead of brining is crispier skin, a frequent casualty of soaking bird parts in salty water for long periods of time.
Not long after, the supermarket ran a great special on whole chickens. Suddenly I had motive and opportunity for a bit of experimenting.
My spices were black pepper, cumin, coriander, Aleppo pepper, pimentón, allspice and a bit of nutmeg - along with some smoked sea salt for extra depth. I salted down the parts and let them alone for a few hours in the refrigerator to introduce spice to bird.
When it was frying time, I quickly dredged the parts in cream, then in flour seasoned with garlic powder, black pepper and a bit of salt - then into a nice 350°F oil bath for 25 minutes to cook up golden brown and crispy.
The skin was crispy, but the most important thing was the spices. They came through wonderfully, my measly nine spices easily creating more flavor than that guy's eleven.
But... what if I were to get really creative? These were more or less in the Dead Colonel's flavor palette. Chicken is really versatile, so no reason it couldn't take other spice blends, like...
Mexican: annatto, chilis, cumin, allspice, Mexican oregano...
Mole: cocoa powder, guajillo chili, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper...
Paella: pimentón, saffron, cumin, oregano...
Asian: five spice.
Indian: pick a spice blend and run with it!
French 1: herbes de provence. French 2: paté spices.
Other: nigella seeds, cumin, black cumin...
Golden: turmeric, ginger, garlic powder, dried shrimp powder.
Black: oven-dried ground olives, oregano, cumin.
Here I am, looking through the hit counter. It's August, 2012, and this post gets no love at all. Not even a peck. Is fried chicken à la colonel mort truly so sacred a recipe that none dare tweak its rosy red nose, twirl its bow tie or yank on its goatee? Alas, it would seem so.