MANILA, Philippines – July was my all-American month. I really wanted to end it on a delicious, indulgent note, and the plan was Southern fried chicken.
The dish sets itself apart from other fried chicken recipes with its spices, buttermilk and breading. It’s traditionally served with something starchy like cornbread, potato salad or (what I finally decided on) buttermilk biscuits. A veggie side like collard greens is also favored.
As the name implies, it originates from the American south; but even this seemingly all-American dish traces its roots to the Scots who migrated to the United States.
I say that was the plan because I quickly abandoned the deep-frying idea. I am concerned about your health, dear reader. I also despise deep-frying anything in my tiny kitchen. It’s hot. It leaves a lingering odor (and the grease that settles everywhere!).
Luckily for us, chicken can be oven “fried” to yummy goodness. Prepared this way, the clean up is also infinitely easier, you’ll see!
Right now, though, I wanna show you how to make buttermilk substitute which we’ll need for the chicken and biscuits.
You’ll need two cups of buttermilk for everything on this article.
To make, use:
- 2 T vinegar
- A scant 2 cups milk
All you have to do is add the vinegar to a measuring cup and fill the rest of the way with milk to make 2 cups.
Leave this, at room temperature, for about 10 minutes. You’ll notice the milk curdle a little bit. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
With the buttermilk good to go, we can get started on Southern oven-“fried” chicken.
- 4 large pieces chicken
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 t mustard
- 2 t paprika
- 1 ½ t salt
- 1 t freshly ground black pepper
- 3 t garlic powder
- 1 t hot sauce (optional)
For the breading:
- About ½ cup flour
- 2 heaping T cornflour (optional)
- A pinch salt
- ½ t freshly ground black pepper
1. Take a cup of the buttermilk substitute in a small bowl and add mustard, paprika, salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder and hot sauce (if using). Stir to mix well.
2. Transfer the marinade into a large Ziploc bag. Add chicken pieces, seal the bag and gently toss around to evenly coat with the marinade. Leave in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours, making sure the chicken pieces lie in one layer. You can also do this in a large baking dish.
3. Preheat the oven to 230 C/450 F. After the desired marinating period, retrieve the chicken and set aside. Prepare breading by mixing flour, cornmeal (if using), salt and freshly ground black pepper in a shallow bowl.
4. Shake off excess marinade on the chicken and dredge with breading mixture. Place chicken pieces on a baking rack. Also prepare a baking tray that will go under the baking rack by lining with aluminum foil. The tray with catch the chicken drippings and the aluminum foil will make clean up much easier.
5. Oven-“fry” for 40 to 50 minutes, skin side up. Turn the chicken pieces halfway through cooking.
I made buttermilk biscuits to go with the oven-“fried” chicken and I did this while the chicken was marinating. This is Alton Brown’s recipe — it’s very easy and yields great results!
To make, you’ll need:
- 2 cups flour + extra for dusting
- 4 t baking powder
- ¼ t baking soda
- ¾ t salt
- 2 T cold butter
- 2 T shortening
- 1 cup cold buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 230 C/450 F. Mix flour, baking, powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
2. Add cold butter and shortening and rub it into the flour using your hands. You’ll need to work fast here so the butter and shortening do not completely melt. The objective is to end up with a somewhat evenly mealy mixture. When done, create a well in the center.
3. Pour in cold buttermilk into the well and gradually stir in the flour with a fork. When you end up with a wet and sticky dough, you’re done.
4. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and fold it into itself 5-6 times. Flour as you go along if the dough sticks too much. Flatten the dough to a disc, about an inch thick. At this point, you can just cut off pieces of the dough and roughly form them into smaller discs or balls. Or you can pretty-fy a little bit by using a cookie cutter like I did.
If doing the latter, repeat the process with scrap dough.
5. Take the formed biscuit dough to a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tall and golden brown. Adorable!
And now, to serve: I went for a bit of a rustic feel with a wooden board and parchment paper. I also decided to whip up a simple gravy at the last minute with the caught drippings. Check, check, check it:
I’m aching for something green to freshen up this plate. I really am! Oh well, the sight of buttermilk biscuits drizzled with truffle honey will have to do.
Yes, truffle honey! If it ever comes your way, please don’t pass up on it. It’s divine!
The chicken crisped up very nicely in the oven. It was also quite tender inside thanks to the buttermilk!
I marinated my chicken for two hours. Although pretty flavorful, especially when eaten with the gravy, I wish I was able to infuse more flavor into it. I suggest you marinate for at least 4 hours and even create incisions on the chicken so the marinade can penetrate the meat.
The buttermilk biscuits turned out flaky and delicious but I found them to be lacking a bit in butter flavor. I would use butter-flavored shortening next time and maybe even serve with a side of butter. Butter good!
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