Fried Chicken, for Breakfast

I had my first experience with chicken and waffles on Easter Sunday 2011.  BF’s family was visiting and in lieu of having a big Easter dinner we opted for brunch so they could drive the four hours home afterwards.  I did some research and narrowed our choices down to four – The Biltmore, Russel House Tavern, East Coast Grill, and Lord Hobo.  Ultimately we went for The Biltmore which was perfect.  Lots of natural light a decent bloody mary and, oh yeah, CHICKEN AND WAFFLES.  Two full sized waffles and what looked like half a chicken graced my plate that morning, I barely ate half of it but it gave me a brunch epiphany.

See, before this eye-opening brunch I hadn’t really considered chicken and waffles an option – I thought it seemed like a weird slightly off-putting combination because I’ve always been a fried chicken and savory sauces kind of girl.  As soon as I tried that crisp chicken skin and tender waffle piled together and doused in maple syrup, I knew – this was my kind of brunch meal.  This is savory and sweet without being too much of either, it’s decadent – so eating it feels like a celebration and it pairs perfectly with a bloody mary.

So I tried it on a Saturday morning when B came over for brunch.  She made the waffles (pumpkin-yogurt ones, recipe coming soon), I dredged and fried the chicken, and BF made the bloody marys.  We ended our meal completely stuffed and thankful our most strenuous activity for the rest of the day was putting together a puzzle and chatting.  Saturday should always be full of good food, great friends, and relaxation I think.  I sent B home with enough leftovers so that she had dinner later and was able to still have enough at home so BF and I could as well, we ate it all that night.

I won’t lie.  Fried chicken takes patience, also an instant read thermometer, but it’s worth it.  that crisp crust and soft fall apart chicken is one of the greatest things in the world.  Paired with a good (grade B) maple syrup and a perfect bloody mary it’s breakfast heaven.  True. Story.

Fried Chicken
Adapted from Bon Appetit February 2012 issue.
Note:  This recipe makes one full 3 lb chicken, but I just used thighs because, while I can butcher a full chicken I’m not very good at it.  So I got three pounds of bone-in thighs instead.  This worked perfectly.  I  also subbed in one cup of whole wheat flour for the regular in the dredge, I ran out of all purpose, and it worked great – I’ll probably do it again.

1 3 lb whole chicken, or 3 lbs chicken pieces, either way it needs to be bone-in

Dry Rub
1 Tbs coarse kosher salt
2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (don’t worry these aren’t spicy)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 Tbs fresh cracked black pepper

The night before breakfast – create the dry rub by mixing all of the ingredients together.  Rub the chicken pieces evenly with the rub and set them in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight.

The morning of breakfast – pull your chicken out of the fridge an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature, so it doesn’t drop the oil temp too much.  In a bowl combine the buttermilk, egg, and water – whisk until well combined. In a second wide flat bowl (I used a pie pan and it worked great) combine the flours, cornstarch, salt, and pepper – you can sift these together to combine them or just give them a gentle whisk to get everything evenly blended.  In a large cast iron skillet (I used my enameled dutch oven and it was wonderful) bring about 3/4″ of your preferred brand of frying oil (BA recommends peanut, I like safflower) up to 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit (I used my candy thermometer, but any deep frying thermometer will work). Remember to check your oil temp periodically throughout cooking to make sure it is staying consistent, it may get a little high or low depending on the temp of your chicken.  When your oil is heated and your chicken is not cold start the dredge. You should try to maintain the same hand for each dip – one hand for chicken to liquid to flour, the other had for flour to oil – trust me this will make the process much tidier.  Dip each piece of chicken completely in the liquid mixture then the flour mixture, make sure to fully coat each piece.  Place the chicken gently in the hot oil one piece at a time – Do Not Crowd the pan – I cooked about three thighs at once, anymore and the chicken would have been touching.  Turn each piece of chicken every 1-2 minutes, to ensure even crisping and brownness until an instant read thermometer shows an internal temperature or 165, about 12 minutes.  Move the chicken to a draining rack to cool for a couple minutes (three is good) then serve with warm maple syrup.  Delicious.  This is definitely a meal to share.  Enjoy!