Saturday, January 4

Crispy Tarragon Fried Chicken

Golden, crunchy fried chicken was a staple in my home growing up.  It was a very special staple, which subconsciously drags me back in time every time the food is mentioned. Fried chicken was served sporadically usually for that big Sunday sunday dinner after church. I can remember noisily playing and running through the house with my siblings (making quite a racket), while my parents were inside. My mom would be in the kitchen frying up some chicken in that cast iron frying pan, making biscuits on the counter, her apron bleached with flour, but "church clothes" miraculously stunning, and looking absolutely beautiful. To this day I still never understood how she stayed so clean while cooking such big dinners for all of us. Moms are amazing. 

When I found this recipe in Jenny Flake's cookbook The Picky Palate, it immediately and happily reminded me of my mom. I knew I had to make this recipe! It was delicious, crunchy, tangy from the buttermilk, and the pieces that weren't burned were awesome! P.S. This cookbook is awesome. If you have kids, or don't have kids, you should  get this book! It is filled with great recipes & pictures.

So how the chicken got burned: I don't fry things very often maybe every six months or so to calm those fast food cravings. Do you get those? I used to have a thermometer but have lost it in a move. So these days I just guess the heat level and dive in. For first few minutes everything seemed fine. Then I noticed the meat was getting really dark and there was more than half the time left. The cripsy parts were starting to burning and smoke filled my kitchen. Did mention even when my mom cooked, the house smelled divine with food, and she always smelled nice like flowers and perfume? She did. I smelled like smoke and grease after the first few chicken pieces were done.  I took one for the team and ate the burned food charred food.  Even the burned pieces had juicy, & tender meat inside. Amazing. Maybe thats some of that special mom ability starting to work in my life too. You can't go wrong with bone-in meat dipped in buttermilk and double dipped into flour mix. The tarragon, my fav spice of the the last few months, is just icing on the cake. 

Real life... this is fried chicken and probably isn't on your list to make for the new year if your new year's resolution is to lose a few pounds. It is a common resolution that most are able to keep for at least a couple months and those rare few to make to half a year or a whole year. This year I was unable to make that resolution. The hormones I am taking to hopefully help us have a baby are making my weight unpredictable and unstable. It is not even about what I am eating, its how my body is reacting and responding to the food + meds + how much I sleep + how much water I can get in. If you are in the same boat where meds or something is keeping you from losing weight from beyond your control, please know I completely understand. So keeping a good face most days my aim is for moderation than sticking to anything real hard and fast. Which means yes fried chicken is in but only a piece or two and lots of veggies on the side for a special dinner not a weekly occurrence. 

Thanks for reading my longer post this time. I miss my mom, she lives far away. I hope that if reminds you of your mom too. Mothers are very special people. 

Crispy Tarragon Fried Chicken 
serves 4-6  
prep + cook time: 45 minutes (unless you have two pans frying chicken at the same time)

2 tsp dried tarragon
1tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
2 cups of whole wheat white flour
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
2 pounds of chicken thighs - this was 8 for me 
veg oil
1 cup of buttermilk or 1 cup of milk + 1 tsp lemon juice

1. heat some vegetable oil in a dutch oven or large heavy pan over medium heat. The original recipe says the heat should be 350. It also said to use 64 oz of oil which I did not. I used closer to 20 oz or so. I did a shallow fry so only half of the chicken was covered. 

2. while oil is heating set up your work station with 3 flat dishes or bowls.

3. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper use hands or tongs to put the chicken seasoned side down into the first bowl or dish and season the other side with the same amounts. 

4. In the second bowl or dish put the buttermilk. Put the first batch of chicken in the this bowl after they are seasoned. I put 4 pieces in this bowl and left the rest of the chicken to hang out for the second batch. 

5. In the third bowl combine the flour & spices (leaving 1 tsp of salt to sprinkle on after they are done cooking). 

6. Using tongs take the first piece of chicken in the buttermilk and turn it over so it is fully coated. Then put into the flour mixture and coat it fully. Then put it back into the buttermilk turning it over once. Let the extra drip off and put it back into the flour. So it will have been dunked into buttermilk twice and flour twice. Let it hang out on the side of the flour bowl/dish while you do the second one. Once the second one is done check your oil and carefully set them into the hot oil. It should bubble right away. If it doesn't your oil isn't hot enough. If the chicken becomes dark right away turn it down just a bit. I timed my chicken at 8 minutes per side.  

7. Once all of the first 4 pieces are in the oil frying happily away. Let the first batch soak up the buttermilk and hang out in there. Then repeat the dredging process when the cooking chicken's time is almost up. 

8. Have a large plate or platter lined with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to put the finished chicken. Sprinkle on the remaining salt and let the chicken cool for approx 5 minutes. 

Thats it. It. Is. The. best. fried. chicken. I have ever had except my mom's of course (wink). Chicken is great served with fun sides like rolls, mashed potatoes, and salad. We had corn on the cob and potato salad with our chicken. Had it been warmer it would've been a picnic! 

The leftovers were just as good as the first night. I created a fried chicken salad with spicy arugula, defrosted peas, avocado, and simple homemade olive oil dressing. Yum! I might make this again just for the salad (wink) Don't miss this great recipe. 

From my kitchen to yours

1 comment:

  1. Looking at the picture, it looks like it doesn’t need that much breading to achieve the desired crunch, which is pretty great. While I’m not one to turn down some crispy chicken skin, I do find it annoying to bite down to a thick coat of breading that some restos serve. Anyway, thanks for sharing this recipe with us, Steph. Have a great day!

    Mae Tyler @ St. Andrew Poultry


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