After getting a nice new 50mm prime lens for my camera for Christmas, my first attempt at a blog post was this fried chicken: a dish that I should have researched more and didn’t photograph particularly well. It tasted good, of course, or I wouldn’t post it, but I did make an error in brining the chicken for 24 hours. Upon further investigation, it seems that chicken pieces like the thighs I used only need to be brined for an hour or two. Live and learn, I guess – this fried chicken definitely had a slight pickle-y taste.
The idea for this post was born from the rumors I’ve heard about Chickfila brining their chicken in pickle juice. I wanted to recreate their spicier recipe in the form of real fried chicken, and I happened to have a leftover bottle of of spicy kosher dill liquid in my fridge (you never know when you’ll need a pickle-back shot). So basically, I learned I am good at frying chicken but bad at recipe research – definitely only brine chicken pieces for a couple of hours if you’re going to make this. The end result will give you really juicy chicken, and I’m pretty sure you can get a similar effect by soaking it in buttermilk and/or hot sauce.
The rest of the process was really simple: I used an inch or so of oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat for frying, and I simply breaded the chicken with a mixture of flour, cayenne, salt and pepper. As usual, when it comes to cooking meat, you should let it warm up to room temperature before cooking. The side dishes I made were sautéed spinach with onions and ranch mashed potatoes. Man, this was a seriously redneck meal.
4 chicken thighs, with bone and skin
3 cups pickle juice
1 cup vegetable oil, more or less as needed (many other oils can be used and are considered better for frying)
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
- In a large ziploc bag or non-reactive container, pour pickle juice over chicken.Close container and leave it in the fridge for 1-3 hours, NOT overnight like me.
- Remove chicken from the fridge and the container an hour or two before cooking to let it come up to room temperature.
- Pat chicken dry and toss with flour, cayenne, salt and pepper. I used another ziploc bag for this to get an even coating.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add oil so that it comes about an inch up the side of the pot. When oil shimmers, bubbles and is obviously hot, begin to add chicken.
- Add one piece of chicken to the pot. If using smaller cuts like drumsticks, wings or tenders, you can add more, but make sure the pieces are not crowded. After about 5 minutes, or when the edges of the chicken have browned nicely, flip the piece over. Cook for 3-5 more minutes until the chicken is golden brown all over. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon and place on an oven-proof dish, then place dish in the oven to keep everything warm. Wait a minute or two to let the oil come back to temperature, then repeat the process with the rest of the chicken pieces.