It was FREEZING yesterday.
For those of you living outside of the U.S./not obsessed with American politics, yesterday was kind of a big day. First of all, it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is always a wonderful reminder of how far our country has come and the incredible efforts of people like Dr. King to get us where we are today. On top of that, it was the Inauguration–a.k.a. the one day every four years that D.C. shuts down and really celebrates. There are serious benefits to living in this city.
I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Inaugural Parade from a good friend of mine, so my friends Travis, Christina, Andrew, and I made the quick walk to the White House from the law school around 7.30am in the hopes of getting good seats. Which we did. We also proceeded to freeze for the next 8 hours until the parade finally got underway. What we discovered was that (a) the presence of direct sunlight can instantly improve one’s body temperature, (b) we all need to invest in thicker socks, and (c) the chicken and waffles truck may be the greatest invention known to man. That truck was actually a lifesaver, and it just goes to show how fried chicken can really hit the spot sometimes.
This past weekend, I made a mini appetizer involving fried chicken for a dinner that I attended. It was a “mini foods” themed potluck, with everyone contributing their favorite bite size foods. There were taquitos, taco-filled pastries, pigs in a blanket, bacon-wrapped poppers, toasty sandwiches, lil smokies, and my little biscuits. While these may seem highly involved, they were actually very easy to make. The marinade is simple and keeps the chicken incredibly tender. Using buttermilk as your base, add your preferred herb (I like thyme) and some spices (in my case, cayenne and garlic). I bet this would taste delicious with a cajun-inspired blend or even with some Mexican seasoning thrown in!
Buttermilk Chicken Biscuits
For the Biscuits:
Recipe from Food.com. I multiplied this recipe by 1.5 but have included the original below.
- 2 cups AP flour (unbleached works best) + extra for dusting your board
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces + ½ tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 cup buttermilk (you may need a little more)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Cut the 6 tablespoons of cold butter into the dry mixture until it resembles course meal–basically you want to see little pieces of butter and ensure that all of the flour mixture is coated in butter.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in the buttermilk until just combined. Do not overmix! That will overdevelop the gluten and result in a tough biscuit. This will be a very wet dough.
- Dust your board and turn out the dough. Fold five times, then pat (do not roll!) until 1-inch thick.
- Using a small shot glass, cookie cutter, or the mouth of a small jar (mine was about 1.5 inches in diameter), cut out small biscuits. Pat the dough out again until completely used–though it’s best to handle the dough as little as possible for the sake of gluten development.
- Place on the baking sheet and lightly brush with melted butter.
- Bake 10 minutes until lightly golden brown (the bottoms will be more golden). Remove from oven. Cool briefly on baking sheet then transfer to rack or plate to finish cooling.
Makes 18, 1.5-inch biscuits.
For the Fried Chicken Bites
These would also taste delicious on their own, served with a buttermilk ranch or buffalo dipping sauce.
- 1.5 to 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 9 thighs), cut into 1.5-inch pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1½ teaspoons cayenne
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 9 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fine grain table salt
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups canola oil
- The night before you intend to fry the chicken, marinate the meat.
Whisk together the buttermilk and cayenne.
Place half the thyme and half the garlic in the bottom of a large bowl or container. Place half the chicken on top of the thyme/garlic.
Pour half the buttermilk/cayenne mixture over the chicken. Top with remaining chicken, thyme, and garlic and repeat.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or overnight.
- The day of: remove chicken from fridge. Place in a colander and allow the excess buttermilk to run off. Remove the thyme and pieces of garlic. Discard the thyme and garlic.
In a medium pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. You want to make sure the oil is hot before cooking everything. The closer the temperature is to 350/375, the less oil your chicken will absorb and the “healthier” (can I use that word when frying chicken?) it will be. I usually test this by dipping the end of a wooden spoon into the oil. When bubbles start to form around it, I know that it’s ready.
While the oil is heating, dredge the chicken in flour. I do this in batches and usually coat with flour twice. You may need more flour, but 1 cup was the perfect amount for me. Try to shake off as much excess flour as possible.
Working in batches, fry the chicken until it is golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pieces from the oil when ready and transfer to a cooling rack placed over a parchment lined baking sheet (ideally the same parchment you used for those biscuits). I know some people like to place fried food on paper towels or brown paper bags, but I feel like those just absorb grease…and then transfer some back to the bottom of whatever you just fried. This way, it drips off.
Toss the pieces with the salt, using more or less depending on your taste.
- To serve, cut a biscuit in half, top with 1 to 2 pieces of chicken.
P.s. All Inauguration-related pictures in this post are courtesy of Travis.