Reality TV has been a lot of fun lately. Shock developments, scandals, threats, petty fights, claims of unseemly behaviour with women-not-your-wife… Such interesting characters with such interesting names. Names like Reince. Reince Priebus. I am of course talking about the American presidential election. Our boy Reince is the incoming White House chief of staff. Now I may not care much for the man’s politics and even less for that of his new boss, The Great Orange One. But you have to admit the chap has an intriguing name. With a moniker like that he could be a PI, a veritable modern-day Dick Tracy. So if things don’t work out for him in the big house and TGOO shows him the pointy “you’re fired” finger, Reince honey, think PI.
Given my current (admittedly morbid) fascination with all things American, I figured I might as well explore their food a bit too. I’ve always liked the sound of Southern Fried Chicken. Now generally I steer well clear of deep fried food, but as an occasional treat it’s not going to do damage. I did some research and read loads of recipes.
Jamie Oliver first brines his chicken overnight. I’m no kitchen slouch but honestly, the only thing I’ll ever go to the trouble of brining is a big fat turkey maybe, certainly not a sodding drumstick. Some Southern Fried Chicken recipes marinate the chicken pieces in buttermilk, which sounded intriguing. It ostensibly softens the meat, ensuring that it is juicy plump. So I did just that, and left it in the fridge in its buttermilk bath for eight hours.
The end result was not noticeably plumper or juicier than any other chicken piece I’ve cooked. And let’s face it, Southern Fried Chicken is meant to be quick impulse food, the home alternative to hitting the Kentucky drive-through. So buttermilk got the boot too. All the other good things stayed – plenty of herbs, spices and what the Americans quaintly call hot sauce. To give it extra crunch I also added, unusually, another American icon – Kellogg’s corn flakes.
All you need is…
8 skinless free range chicken drumsticks and thighs
sunflower oil for frying
½ cup plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
¼ cup milk
1 tbs Sriracha hot chilli sauce
2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup corn flakes, ground in your food processor to resemble bread crumbs
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne
Mix the ingredients for the 3 dips in 3 different bowls. Lightly dip the chicken pieces in dip 1 and shake off the excess. Dunk them in dip 2 and then in dip 3 straight away. You want to be generous with dip 3, so pat the mixture on a bit with your fingers. Gently lower the chicken pieces into at least 5cm of medium-hot oil (170 degrees Celsius) and fry them until golden brown and cooked through. Thighs take about 15 minutes, drumsticks a bit less. You will need to do this in batches to prevent over crowding and your oil getting too cold.
Lift the chicken out gently with a slotted spoon (tongs will break the crispy crust), drain briefly on kitchen towel and serve right away. COOK’S NOTE: If you prefer, you can fry the chicken pieces very briefly for about 4 minutes until they are just light gold but crispy, then place them on a wire rack over an oven tray and finish the cooking in an oven set to 180 degrees Celsius.