If you like fast-food chicken sandwiches, you’ll love this recipe. Add a bun and fixings to the chicken, and you’ve got a great sandwich. Is it better than the fast-food guys’? Not specifically. After all, fast-food is generally really tasty for what it is. Are they better for you than the fast-food version? Again, not really. It’s fried chicken, so it’s not really going to be good for you, no matter what you do to it.
All that said, these make for an easy and delicious lunch or casual dinner.
Please note that the 3 pounds of chicken the recipe calls for is A LOT of chicken. If you’re making only four thighs, for example, still use the full amount of marinade and buttermilk mixture, but you can cut the flour, corn starch, salt and pepper in at least half.
Last, it may be heresy, but you could probably skip the whole marinade thing and just add more seasonings to the flour for coating—they’d still be really good.
This recipe is from Food & Wine magazine.
What you’ll need:
- 0.5 cups pickle brine—not from sweet pickles
- 2T kosher salt, divided
- 2t paprika
- 1T, plus, 1t black pepper, divided
- 0.5t cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- 0.5t garlic powder
- 0.5t onion powder
- 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
- 1 cup buttermilk or well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt
- 0.5 cups water
- 1 large egg
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 0.25 cups cornstarch
- Peanut or neutral oil, for frying
What to do:
Stir together the pickle brine, 1T salt, paprika, 1t black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Put the chicken in a large, sealable freezer bag and add the pickle-brine mixture. Seal the bag and move the chicken around until it’s all coated. Refrigerate at least two hours, or up to 8 hours or overnight.
After it’s done marinating and you’re ready to cook, whisk the buttermilk, 0.5 cups water, and the egg in a large bowl. Remove the chicken from the bag and dump out the brine. Add the chicken to the buttermilk mixture, try to get each piece fully submerged.
Next, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, remaining 1T of salt, and the remaining 1T black pepper in a shallow dish. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 200°F (if you’re cooking more than 4 pieces), and pour about a half-inch of cooking oil into a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Heat the oil to about 350°F.
When the oil’s hot enough, it’s time to start cooking. Metal tongs may be the best tool for safely manipulating the chicken. Also, it’s best to cook only four at a time.
For cooking, remove a piece of chicken from the buttermilk and dredge it in the flour, coating it well on each side. Gently shake it off and carefully place it in the oil. Repeat for the next 3 pieces. Turn every 1 or 2 minutes, for a total of about 8 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165 at the thickest part of a chicken piece. Repeat this process for every 4 pieces you cook.
**Note: as soon as you add the chicken, the oil will cool down drastically. To keep the oil to temperature, turn up the heat to high as you add the third and fourth pieces. Keep an eye on the temp and lower or raise, as needed, remembering that the oil will cool again when you turn the chicken over.
If you’re doing more than one batch, put the cooked pieces in the 200°F, oven to keep them warm.
When all the chicken is done, assemble the sandwiches with your favorite condiments. We used pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise.