Last Friday brought another video shoot for the Times Diners' Journal blog, and, believe it or not, it is a very stream-lined, low-tech affair.
Producer David Frank (along with his intrepid intern, Channon) have the process down to a science. They showed up with two cameras, a half dozen lights, and a willingness to consume vast quantities of fried chicken for lunch. And we winged it from there (heh heh...)
We don't do a lot of planning ahead though I did remember to write down some talking points so I wouldn't forget to impart all the important infomation (such as, the chicken must be at room temperature before you start frying.)
So I started frying my chicken parts (all dark meat, no breasts) most decadently, in a combination of duck fat and olive oil. Fried chicken is a treat on its own, add duck fat into the mix and what you get is a double-fowl, double-treat. One you may want to eat double-fisted.
The next day (Saturday) we had some friends visit from Norway. I still had plenty of leftover, buttermilk-soaked, unfried chicken in the fridge and decided to make that all-American classic brunch dish, fried chicken and waffles. These chicken parts had to be fried in lard, as we used all the glorious duck fat the day before. After a comparison, I can honestly say: duck fat is better. But lard is still excellent.
Also I ran out of all-purpose flour so ended up dredging my Saturday chicken in cake flour. The cake flour dissolved more, creating a batter-like coating that was crunchy and hard in contrast to the AP flour, which is more crackling and brittle. Both are very good though, as long as you add enough salt.
Thanks to David and Channon for a fun shoot, I'll post the video when it's up! In the meantime, here's the recipe.
Duck Fat Fried Chicken
Makes 4 to 6 servings
12 chicken parts (I used a mix of drumsticks, wings, and thighs)
1 quart buttermilk
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 bay leaves
3 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Tabasco sauce, use just enough to slightly color the liquid
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Olive oil, for frying
Duck fat, for frying
1. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk, onion, garlic, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and Tabasco. Submerge the chicken in the marinade, cover, and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
2. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before cooking. In a bowl, mix the flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Place a paper bag inside another paper bag (to prevent seepage, use large bags or several small ones) and transfer the flour mixture into it. Shake each chicken piece, one by one, in the paper bag until completely coated and set on a dish. You can also just mix flour in a bowl and dredge the chicken parts in it, or use a heavy-duty ziplock bag for shaking.
3. In a large Dutch oven or heavy skillet with a lid, heat the oil and duck fat until it reaches a temperature of 350° F. Fry the chicken in the fat for 6 minutes, covered, then uncover the pot and flip the chicken with tongs. Continue frying for another 6 minutes, then flip the chicken once more and fry until dark golden brown and the juices run clear when pricked with a fork, about another 5 to 6 minutes for dark meat. White meat will cook faster so test it sooner.
4. Place the chicken on a wire rack set over a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Allow the chicken to drain for 1 to 2 minutes, then serve warm or room temperature, though cold chicken is still marvelous.
All photos by Lily Starbuck.