I am an absolute fiend for using leftovers. In fact, my mania for using every last bit of EVERYTHING in the kitchen has been known to make a few eyes roll around the house. But when I looked into the fridge and saw a jar full of pickle-less pickle brine and some chicken thighs, there was only one thing we could be having for dinner: Pickle-Fried Chicken.
Pickle brine has everything you need for marinating perfectly juicy meat - a little acid, some salt, garlic, spices, and little hint of dill. Place the chicken in a sealable plastic bag and pour enough brine over the top to cover. Place the bag in a bowl to help keep the chicken submerged. Marinate for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours for maximum flavor.
Next, mix up your spice rub. I like to use equal parts sweet paprika, kosher salt, and garlic powder (about a tablespoon each) with a little cayenne pepper added for heat.
Drain the brine from the chicken and pat dry with a paper towel before giving the chicken a heavy coat of the spice rub. Then, dredge it in all-purpose flour. This will create a fairly light breading. For extra crunchy, follow the four dredge with a quick dip some egg and a second coating of flour.
It's time to fry! Prepare your fry station by filling a wide, heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron is best if you've got it) with enough vegetable oil to come half away up the chicken pieces (about 1-1.5" deep). You will also need an easy to read digital or candy thermometer to monitor your oil temperature. For perfectly crispy chicken, adjust the heat on your stove to maintain a temperature range or 325-350 degrees. Finally, make sure you have a place for the finished chicken to land. A plate covered in paper towels works reasonably well, but I prefer a sheet pan with a rack on top. This not only allows excess oil to drain completely, but all makes an easy transfer to the oven in case the chicken needs a little extra cooking time.
Fry the chicken until deep golden brown on both sides and transfer to the rack. Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of each piece to check the internal temperature. If it had not reach 160 degrees, transfer the chicken to a 350 oven for a few minutes to finish.
Serve warm or take on the road for the perfect picnic!
Like the idea of homemade fried chicken, but want to try it out in a class first? Check out our new Chicken 101 menu at Lincoln Square on September 25th! More into roasting? Take a peek at Josh's latest blog for a great how-to on one of our favorite techniques to teach at The Chopping Block - the spatchcock!
Our Owner/Chef Shelley Young has an alternative method for frying chicken. Check out her video here:
Want more how to cook videos? Check out our online video library.