My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby. It will be my parents’ first grandchild. With all the fuss over this baby, I’ve been telling everyone “The first baby is a miracle, the second one is just a baby.” That said, my brother was the miracle and I was just a baby.
To celebrate the arrival of the little miracle, my mom and I threw my sister-in-law a baby shower. Against all better judgment, I offered to make my sister-in-law a Southern picnic themed menu including fried chicken and homemade biscuits. I’m Asian. We eat fried chicken out of a bucket. I’ve never had homemade fried chicken in my life. What in the world was I thinking?
Because I’m such a control freak, I tried out the fried chicken recipe I selected for the shower a week before. Here are the recipes I used with my own minor adjustments. Mind you, the biscuits need to be eaten the day they were baked. They don’t carry over well the next day.
Fried Chicken Recipe (Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cookbook by Ree Drummond)
cooking thermometer with an attachment piece
1 organic fryer chicken cut up into pieces (Whole Foods butchers can cut them up for you)
2 cups plus 1/8 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 Tablespoons Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 cup milk
peanut oil for frying
1. Cut your chicken up with a very sharp knife if you’ve bought whole chickens. Here’s a handy video from Youtube if you’re new to this. Also, you can have your butcher cut the chicken up for you.
2. In a large bowl marinate the chicken in 2 cups of buttermilk and refrigerate overnight. I didn’t measure this out — I just made sure the chicken was covered in buttermilk. When ready to fry, remove chicken from the refrigerator and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes to take the chill off.
3. Preheat your oven to 350F. Stir together and mix the dry ingredients in a very large bowl. In a small bowl, combine 1/8 cup buttermilk and 1/8 cup regular milk. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and stir with a fork until little lumps appear throughout the dry mix.
4. Heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a dutch oven (attach cooking thermometer to the side) over medium heat to 365F. Don’t overdo it with the oil — adding more oil lowers the overall temperature.
5. Work in batches of 4 pieces of chicken at a time. Take a piece of chicken from the buttermilk marinade and thoroughly coat with the dry mix, taking care to press into the meat to adhere the coating. This will give your chicken plenty of crispy coating. If you just dip your chicken in the coating, the coating will fall off during the frying process, so really press that coating into your chicken.
6. When you have your 4 pieces of chicken coated with the dry mix, add to the oil and cover for 3-5 minutes, checking after 2 minutes that the chicken isn’t getting too brown. You want your chicken to develop a nice medium golden color. Turn your chicken pieces over and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Monitor your oil temperature to ensure that the chicken doesn’t burn. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the remaining chicken pieces.
7. Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet and when done frying all the pieces, bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. To test for doneness, poke a fork into a thigh or breast and if the juices run clear, then the chicken is fully cooked.
I highly recommend making this buttermilk recipe along with the fried chicken since it will help you use up that 1/2 gallon of buttermilk. These biscuits were very popular during the test run.
Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe (Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cookbook by Ree Drummond)
Makes approximately 15 medium sized biscuits
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup chilled shortening (or 1/3 cup butter)
1/3 cup cold butter cut into pieces (5 1/3 teaspoons)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1. Preheat your oven to 450F. In a large bowl, comine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the chilled shortening and cold butter pieces and blend with a fork (or just use your hand). The dry mix should be crumbly.
2. Pour in the buttermilk and mix gently with a fork (or your hand). The dough will be a little sticky. If dry or crumbly, add a little more buttermilk.
3. Lightly flour a clean surface. Dust your rolling pin with flour. Roll dough onto the surface and roll to 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness.
4. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter (I used the 3rd largest size) and place them on a baking sheet.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush tops with melted butter.
(Note: If you substitute butter for shortening, your biscuits will have a more butterly flavor and may not turn out as fluffy.)
Here are some pics of the baby shower food. (My favorite part of any party!) Photos were taken by my cousin’s lovely wife Andrea Takeoka (aka Mrs. T). She has a fabulous camera and really knows how to use it!