Southern Style Fried Chicken and Chunky Chips with Home-made Spicy Ketchup
I have already confessed having a dirty obsession with KFC. Since turning into a full-fledged non-vegetarian, my progression into Meat-opia has been like a toddler’s – hot dogs –> chicken nuggets –> burgers –> fried chicken. I’ve been force-fed fois gras. It tastes like fat and liver. That said, I am still willing to try out Joel Robuchon’s mini fois gras burgers. Lamb – I just cannot stomach the taste albeit trying so hard. Venison is okay, but has a lamby tinge to it. Steak tastes a lot like a burger to my infantile tastebuds (I guess that may have something to do with both coming from the same animal). I haven’t had the best veal yet but I can already tell it’s not gonna be one of my favourites either. So given the choice, I’ll always go for the seafood or veggie option on the menu. Well, unless there’s fried chicken.
James Martin’s recipe calls for a whole chicken cut into 8 pieces. Since it was just Mindy & me trying out my first ever fried chicken I decided to get four drumsticks. But not just any drumsticks – corn-fed, organic, free range, happy chicken drumsticks. He said to take the skin off. It didn’t go as smoothly as I thought it might.
However, once the skin was off the rest was smooth sailing. It resulted in the poshest fried chicken ever. The coating was crispy and flaky. The spices weren’t very similar to the Colonel’s secret recipe, but complemented the chicken very well (can’t go wrong with lemon and chilli. Lemon + Chilli + Chicken = Happy Family). And the chicken…wow, it was S-U-C-C-U-L-E-N-T. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with being corn-fed, organic, free-range what not, but I’m only ever going to cook with those and try and get better at the skinning.
Where the chicken conquered, the chips and ketchup let us down. I’d completely forgotten about the chips while battling with the bird’s skin. They got a bit chewy on the outside after being left in the oven for umm…a while (almost 2 hours). Very lucky they weren’t burnt. About the ketchup – James Martin loves his star anise. I like a little of it. It’s such a strong flavour that I felt like the ketchup was spiked with two shots of sambuca (note to self: do not mix ketchup and sambuca at cocktail party).
PS – Apologies for not putting up any more colourful photos. Silly me forgot to put in my memory card into the camera. Plus the camera’s broken 😦
James Martin’s Southern Fried Chicken with Spicy Tomato Ketchup
For the southern fried chicken
1 x 2kg/4lb 7oz chicken, cut into 8 portions (I took 4 drumsticks to feed 2)
3 free-range egg whites (I reduced it to the whites of one big egg plus one small egg)
150g/5¼oz Japanese panko breadcrumbs, or dried breadcrumbs (you can make the coat mix to the full amount and save the unused mix for later)
2 lemons, zest only
1½ tsp cayenne pepper
1½ tsp garlic salt
1½ tsp dried thyme
1½ tsp dried oregano
2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
vegetable oil, for deep frying (like a litre and a half!)
For the spicy tomato ketchup
125ml/4½fl oz cider vinegar
1 red chilli, finely chopped (I’d use two, maybe three the next time)
1 star anise, lightly crushed (NOOOO!!! say no to star anise!)
60g/2½oz soft light brown sugar
750g/1lb 9oz ripe tomatoes, quartered, seeds removed
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp English mustard powder
1 small garlic clove, peeled, crushed
Tabasco sauce, to taste
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp cornflour, mixed with 1 tsp water (optional) (I didn’t need it as the ketchup was of a good ketchuppy consistency. You know. Like ketchup)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. For the southern fried chicken, remove the skin from the chicken pieces (easier said than done) and slash the flesh with the tip of a sharp knife (you can rub in some cayenne pepper or ground chilli. I’m going to try this recipe with marinating the chicken again).
3. Lightly whisk the egg whites together in a bowl and add the chicken, mixing well to coat.
4. Place all the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, dried thyme, dried oregano, cracked black pepper and sea salt into a bowl and mix until well combined. Dip the chicken pieces in the breadcrumb mixture, ensuring all of the chicken is well coated.
5. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fat fryer to 170C/338F, checking the temperature with a digital thermometer. Alternatively, half-fill a deep, heavy-based pan with the vegetable oil and heat until a breadcrumb dropped in sizzles and turns golden-brown in 30 seconds. (CAUTION: Hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended. Also, my first chicken got a few shades darker than golden brown due to being left in for a while but I’m allowed as this is my first time ever)
6. Cook the chicken, a few pieces at a time, in the oil for 6-10 minutes (depending on the size of each piece), or until golden-brown and crisp (this is a better rule as 6-10 minutes in that heat would yield fried chicken ash), turning the pieces over occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon and place onto a baking tray, then cook the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes, or until cooked through (the juices should run clear when the chicken is pierced in the thickest part with a skewer). Keep warm.
7. For the spicy tomato ketchup, place the vinegar, chilli, star anise and sugar into a heavy-based, non-reactive pan and bring to a simmer. Add the tomatoes, then all of the other remaining ketchup ingredients, apart from the cornflour and water mixture. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from catching on the bottom of the pan.
8. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
9. Transfer the ketchup mixture to a food processor and blend to a smooth purée. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, discarding any solids.
10. If the ketchup is too thin for your liking, return the ketchup to a clean pan and bring to the boil. Stir in the cornflour and water mixture and cook until thickened to the desired consistency.
Serve up and eat with hands (fried chicken and cutlery look silly, no matter how posh the fried chicken).