An Italian and her Southern Fried Chicken
I am always fascinated by the excitement created by Fried Chicken. Having lived now in the Southern, United States for almost 25 years, I have finally gotten up the nerve to try my hand at some. It's a certain, right of passage, one might say. I have always left it to the Native Southerners, who seem to have a knack at frying anything and everything.
The Italians are a bit more sophisticated when frying vegetables and certain meats. These frying methods, vary Regionally, so don't be surprised when you have a fried Zucchini flower Blossoms in Central Rome, only to be shocked that your Fried Zucchini Flower Blossoms in Ascoli Piceno will be different in texture and taste. One thing is for sure, it will all be delicious. Italians like to create pastes or pastella, in order to achieve a crispy result. Some pastes are fascinating to me. One coming to mind is the use of sparkling water in a flour paste to create a big, thick crust from the Emilia-Romagna region. This method is very popular when frying. The gas from the water creates an explosion of thick, crispy crust. This post is making me hungry!
So why use Buttermilk? Why not? The sourness of the Buttermilk creates an interesting flavor and thick crust when cooked. I can remember Buttermilk being incredibly hard to find in Italy. My Mother in law was insistent, so she made her own even after countless begging at Castroni to stock the item (a food market specialized in foreign food goods in downtown Rome, Italy).
In order to achieve that crispy coating, the Buttermilk needs to be covering the chicken for up to 2 days, refrigerated. My Mother, on the other hand, used to bake her fried chicken, never soaking it in anything but a drizzle of olive oil and lemon, overnight.
Cooking methods may vary, but achieving that crispy result is all the same. You can achieve a great result following some basic steps in the kitchen, including letting your chicken rest before serving. Hot chicken served is flavorless, no matter what you do to it, so by all means, let your chicken rest before serving. Buon Appetito!
6 chicken thighs (medium), skin on or remove part of it if you like. 3 teaspoons of salt
2 black pepper
3 cups buttermilk
One large ziploc container
About one cup of vegetable oil
One large skillet
A handful of fresh Rosemary. Some for garnish, some for frying
One large non stick baking pan
2 cups of flour
2 cups bread crumbs, plain
Place your chicken, Buttermilk, salt and pepper into a ziploc, plastic bag. Close the bag and gently massage. Place the bag on a large plate and refrigerate for 2 days. On the second day, be sure and turn the bag over and massage gently again.
On day 3, remove the bag from the refrigerator about an hour before beginnng the cooking process.
Drain your chicken.
Preheat your oven to 400F/ bake
Heat your vegetable oil in a large skillet.
Coat your chicken in flour, then bread crumbs, shaking off excess. Add a few sprigs of fresh Rosemary right into your oil. While the Rosemary sizzles, it will begin to infuse your kitchen with it's scent along with the chicken you are about to cook.
The oil now is ready for you to slip your chicken in. Brown on both sides for about 5 minutes on each side. You want to create that crispy, outside coat. Remove onto a plate lined with paper towels.
Place onto a baking sheet and continue cooking in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. Stick a fork into the fattest part of the thigh to check for clear liquid. If juices run clear, it's done.
Be sure and let rest up to 30 minutes before serving. Remember, hot chicken is flavorless. Chicken needs to rest. Add some fresh Rosemary to garnish. There might even be a piece missing before it's arrival to the table. Buon Appetito!