Finger Lickin’ Fried Chicken

Fried chicken has been a popular family indulgence around the globe for centuries, with some of its early roots stereotypically tied to the black communities of the Southern States.  But if Toronto’s insatiable appetite for the crispy golden skin of a chicken leg is any indication, you don’t have to speak with a southern drawl or live in Tornado alley to enjoy a bucket of the stuff.

But, let’s be honest with ourselves. No ones tucking into a platter full of deep-fried goodness, with a side of sausage gravy, biscuits and candied sweet potatoes thinking they’re going to honestly count their weight watchers points.  Having said that, there is always room for a treat, and there is always ways to make that treat a little more justifiable. How? Next time you’re whipping up the southern goods at home, do your family a favour by choosing a free range organic bird from Yorkshire Valley Farms.  The result will be a more healthful, flavourful chicken that will be worth every mouthwatering and juicy calorie. Here’s one of our favourite recipes to get you started …Grilled Roasted Chicken from Barton Seaver.

Any get together would be the perfect time to bust out this tasty homemade version! But then there are always going to be those less-festive occasions when the craving hits, and you need your fried chicken fix on the fly.  Well, thankfully, recent industry research has suggested such a steep increase in the demand for comfort food classics, making fried chicken a popular offering on top restaurant menus across Toronto.  So next time you’re in a pinch, check out one of the hot spots on the top of our list:

The Stockyards Buttermilk Fried Chicken

The Stockyards’ Buttermilk Fried Chicken

The Harlem Underground

Chef Grant van Gameren from Bar Isabel

The Drake Cafe's Southern Fried Chicken

The Drake Cafe’s Southern Fried Chicken

Chef David Chang at Momofuku (Toronto)

Chef David Chang at Momofuku (Toronto)

Electric Mud BBQ

Electric Mud BBQ  photo credit Craig Moy

Each of these restaurants has their own unique spice blends, batters, and techniques, proving that fried chicken is a totally personal thing. So take a little inspiration from the pros and get creative! Next time you’re at the store, pick up an organic chicken from Yorkshire Valley farms, throw in your favourite seasonings and flavours, or just use the guide above. Don’t let this summer fly by without indulging in this organic version of a classic Southern treat!

Deviled Fried Chicken

Deviled Fried Chicken

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

2 cups buttermilk
1⁄4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons onion powder (with green onion and parsley)
5 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons dry mustard
4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 1⁄2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 (3- to 3 1⁄4-pound) chicken, backbone removed, chicken cut into 8 pieces, skinned (except wings)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
5 cups peanut oil, for frying

Special equipment: Deep-fry thermometer

DIRECTIONS

[1] In a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag, mix the buttermilk, mustard, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tea- spoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon cayenne, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the chicken pieces. Seal the bag, eliminating air. Turn the bag to coat the chicken evenly. Refrigerate at least 1 day and up to 2 days, turning bag occasionally.

[2] Whisk the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, remaining 1 tablespoon onion powder, 4 teaspoons salt, 3 teaspoons dry mustard, 3 teaspoons cayenne, and 11⁄2 teaspoons pepper in a 13 by 9-inch glass dish. With marinade still clinging to the chicken pieces (do not shake off excess), add the chicken to the flour mixture, turning to coat thickly. Let the chicken stand in the flour mixture for 1 hour, turning chicken occasionally to recoat with flour mixture.

[3] Pour the oil to a depth of 11⁄4 inches into a 10- to 11-inch pot. Attach a deep-fry thermometer. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350°F. Add 4 pieces of chicken, skin side down. Reduce the heat to medium-low and fry 5 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain oil temperature between 280° and 300°F (oil should bubble constantly around chicken). Using wooden spoons, turn the chicken over. Fry 7 minutes. Turn the chicken over again. Fry until deep golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. Using the same spoons, transfer the chicken to a large rack set on a baking sheet.

[4] Reheat the oil to 350°F. Repeat frying with the remain- ing 4 pieces of chicken. Serve the chicken warm or at room temperature within 2 hours, or chill up to 1 day and serve cold.

Excerpted from The Epicurious Cookbook.  Copyright © 2012 Tanya Steel and the Editors of Epicurious.com.  Published by Appetite by Random House, which is a division of Random House of Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.