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Fried Chicken

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I made fried chicken today. It turned out ok but not exactly what I was looking for in flavor. I started out by brining legs and thighs in salt water for about 2 hours. I was told that this would make for plump juicy chicken that is seasoned throughout.

I then combined 3 cups of buttermilk in a bowl with 3 tbsp chipotle hot sauce, ceyenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked hot paprika, salt, and pepper. In another dish I had salted flour for dredging. I'm not interested in the egg and breadcrumb steps, we don't like batter, just crisp skin.

So I removed the chicken from the brine and patted them dry. I did not rinse off any of the brine. I then dipped each piece in the spicy buttermilk and dredged through the flour shaking off any excess. I layed them down on a cookie rack and let them dry and firm up for about 1/2 hour.

I heated peanut oil in my dutch oven on the stove top to 350 and popped in a couple of garlic cloves. I then fried the chicken for 12 minutes and drained it on paper towels letting it rest for at least 5 minutes before we devoured it. This was my first time brining and I don't mind it but I'm not sure what it added. It didn't taste salty at all and I don't think the brine really penetrated. Should I have brined it over night or would that have made it salty? Also, eventhough I used all those spices the crust was not spicy at all. It had a nice flavor but it wasn't not and spicy. What can I do to get a kick to my chicken?

The good thing was that the chicken was cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside, very juicy on the inside without excessive breading. But how do I get more flavor into the chicken meat all the way down to the bone?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 12
Brining makes a twofold contribution. The salt keeps the chicken moist, while the acid tenderizes. Some sort of sweetener is a common component to balance the salt and to improve both the moisturizing and "power" the diffusion. 2 hours is enough time to brine chicken already cut in pieces -- if the brining solution is sufficiently concentrated. If you felt the brine did not add to the overall saltiness of the dish, it was undoubtedly too weak for the amount of time. So? What was your brine?

The reason your chicken didn't have enough seasoning was because you didn't season it enough. The most efficient place and time for seasoning is directly on the skin or meat, before dipping. The extra seasoning from the dips is helpful, but much harder to control.

You can get some flavor into the chicken with the brine, and additionally take away some of the less pleasant flavors. One of my favorite brines is seasoned buttermilk. Another is limeade fortified with tequila and salt.

I suggest brining your chicken in something wonderful to begin with; then wiping the chicken and seasoning it; then dipping the chicken either in flour-buttermilk-flour, flour-egg-flour, or simply buttermilk-flour (as you did) -- with all of the dips well seasoned. Nothing gets "just" salt.

Now if you liked the texture of the chicken you had, you'd go (a) brine (salty/sweet/acid); (b) wipe; (c) season; (d) seasoned buttermilk dip; (e) seasoned flour dip; and, (f) as before.

BDL
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
So I could add my spicy components to the brine directly? I have also tried marinating the chicken for several hours in buttermilk with lots of spices in it and still I don't taste flavor down to the bone. I HATE to compare home made fried chicken to KFC but if you've ever had their spicy chicken you'll see that spices somehow have ended up directly on the bone. How do they do that???:bounce:

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 12
I'm not certain how much it might have to do with it but KFC pressure fries their chicken.
post #5 of 12
You can get a lot of flavor in the chicken by brining or other forms of marinating. You need enough salt and acid (and sometimes sugar) to make it happen though. You still haven't said what your seasoning concentrations are. You can't use the same amount of seasonings in a 2 hour brine as you'd use on the skin for broiling and expect anything much to happen.

Marinades and brines asides, season the chicken at the surface, and season every dip. That's "layering." The most important layers are the skin and the crust. Salt and hot pepper are a little tricky, because you don't want to go overboard. Other strong spices (garlic for instance) are easier to control, using your senses of sight and smell.

I shouldn't be giving too many recipes away anymore, but see what you think about this:

MARGARITA FRIED CHICKEN

Ingrdedients
2 chickens cut in serving pieces

Brine
2 quarts commercial limeade, divided
1/2 cup table salt
1/2 to 1 cup inexpensive tequila
2 onions quartered

Rub
1/2 cup salt
3 tbs paprika (preferably smoked)
3 tbs coarse, freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (1/2 tsp dried)

Chipotle Hot Sauce

Dip
1-1/2 cup buttermilk, divided
2 tsp hot sauce, divided
Enough rub for visiblity

Crust
3 cups flour
Enough rub for visibility

Technique
Make the brine by peeling and quartering the onions and breaking them into pieces. Add them to half the limeade with the salt. Bring to the boil, allow to simmer for a few minutes, then stir to make sure the salt has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for half an hour. Add the remaining ingredients, and the chicken (cut into pieces). Brine, covered in the refrigerator, for at least 3 hours and as long as overnight.

Remove from the brine, and dry thoroughly. You may rinse or not, it won't make much difference.

Put the dry chicken in a large bowl, and season with a tsp or so of hot sauce (optional) and generously sprinkling it with rub. (How much rub? Be aware that the rub is almost half salt, the chicken is already half salted from the brine, this layer will carry about 3/4 of the seasoning -- and limit yourself accordingly.) Toss the chicken with the seasonings.

Set half the chicken aside, cover (or bag) and store in the refrigerator).

Add enough buttermilk, about 3/4 cup to the bowl with the remaining chicken, to thoroughly moisten. Toss the chicken to coat it. Add enough hot sauce so the buttermilk will be barely tinged and toss again. Add enough rub so that it's just visible (about 1 tbs) and toss again.

Put half the flour, along with 2 tbs of rub in a bag, shake to mix. Shake the chicken, two or three pieces at a time in the flour until well coated, then allow to sit on a rack so the excess flour falls off while the rest adheres and sets. Allow to sit 15 minutes before frying.

While the first batch of chicken is frying, milk and flour the rest in the same way.

(I'm not going to give frying directions since you seem to have that down. One suggestion though is that you replace at least half your frying oil with lard. Lard has a much cleaner and less assertive taste than oil or vegetable shortening, adding much less to the product, and allowing the chicken to make its presence better known.)

See what you think,
BDL

PS. This recipe is original with me. If you want to share or post it elsewhere. please attribute it to me, Boar D. Laze. It would be a kindness if you would also mention my (eventually) forthcoming book, COOK FOOD GOOD: American Cooking and Technique for Beginners and Intermediates.
post #6 of 12
BDL

The salt keeps the chicken moist? I do not believe this is the intention of salt in a brine. It is the liquid introduced by the addition of salt in a brine that keeps the meat tender. Salt by nature in a brine removes liquid and in this case I believe salt opens up the pours and allows for more liquid to enter the meat which helps keep it tender.

While I feel this is an excellent method for a roast bird I would never brine a fried chicken. It is the introduction of the high heat and the steam that is created by the breading that makes the chicken moist and tender.

An excellent example of a brine is when you make bacon. Salt removes all of the water out of the bacon and seasons at the same time it does not make the pork belly tender at all it actually firms it up. It is the same when you cure a piece of salmon the salmon does not become tender with the addition of the salt cure it becomes more firm because the liquid is removed from the meat.


Nicko
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Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
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post #7 of 12
There is a terrific sidebar in Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly's book The Complete Meat Cookbook that explains how and why brining works for flavor and moisture. It's attributed to Janet Fletcher, a food writer from San Francisco.

Here's a quote from the article:

And here's the link to the whole article:
READY FOR BRINE TIME / Salt and spices put old-fashioned flavor back into modern meats

I'm sold on the process, but not for roasting a turkey at Thanksgiving. The problems are two fold- 1)the drippings are very salty and thus make an overly salty gravy if you're not careful and 2) the brine also infuses the skin with water so that the turkey skin never becomes crisp during the roasting process. Rubbery skin is gross.

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She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #8 of 12
FoodnFoto, that's incorrect. And McGee knows better.

Diffusion is the natural effort to balance solutes in a solvent. In this case, salt and water. (sugar too)

Osmosis is a special type of diffusion that's important because it works kind of BACKWARDS across a semipermeable membrane (cell walls). Solvent flows from LOW concentration of solute to HIGH concentration of solute. Just the opposite of normal diffusion.

In the case of a brine, water flows out of the cell which is lower in salt than the brine. This acts to raise the salt concentration in the cells even though no salt is being added. Just removing water.

There are other things going on as well however that have nothing to do with osmosis.

Brined meat weighs more after brining than before, usually around 10%. So where is this water weight coming from if cells are dumping water?

I've not seen this adequately explained to my satisfaction. Cook's illustrated says that the higher salt concentration denatures protein creating webs to hold back the water. However, the protein under discussion is in the cells so I don't see it holding back much water. If it were holding back water, osmosis would stop.

However, the osmotic water loss and denaturing explain the stiffness Nicko noted.

My opinion is that normal diffusion is at work getting flavored brine into the interstitial spaces of the meat. Not in the cells. Then as the cells contract and achieve osmotic balance, Some liquid is squeezed out while other liquid in those spaces is trapped.

Sugar also triggers osmotic responses. But is mostly used to balance the salty flavors.

Acid doesn't power osmosis or brines. While it does diffuse, it's not something that cell walls transfer significantly
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #9 of 12
My point is that Salt is the impetus or catalyst for creating an environment for moisture and tenderizing but it is actually the liquid that is introduced that does the job of creating a moist and tender product not the salt.

I could be wrong but that is what I thought was at work.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #10 of 12
My understanding of the process, which is actually pretty detailed from a bio-chem standpoint, is much like Phil's. Nicko, I'm sorry if I was inexact in my language and gave the impression that my thought was that salt itself actually moisturized the meat, rather than helped to power a diffusionary process whereby the meat went to the heat with more moisture than it would have otherwise started.

Returning to Phil's discussion -- the question of whether a signficant amount of osmosis takes place and the brining solution is actually absorbed across cell walls is one which is open and in debate. While my own level of biology and bio chemistry knowledge is not enough for me to form a strong opinion, it is sufficient to read the literature such as it is (this is not something which has recieved much serious research). The weight of authority seems to be with Phil as opposed to Food-N-Foto's source -- that is, trans-cellular osmosis is not a significant contributor to the amount of fluid absorbed compared to interstitial diffusion. Remember though, the jury isn't completely in.

Again, I apologize for any loose language which may have made my understanding and transmission of others' informed opinions unclear.

However interesting, the diffusion/osmosis debate is not particularly important to a home cook. The point is that a brine requires sufficient concentration to work well, and a brine which is appropriately concentrated across the three axes of salt, sweet, and sour will work more efficiently than a uni-axial solution. Furthermore, a brine will efficiently work to carry other flavors including aromatics to the meat.

To the extent much thought went into developing the Margarita Brine it was originated for smoke-fried chicken (i.e., pieces which are lightly smoked before breading and frying); and a smoked/grilled chicken for barbecue competition which also received a homemade lime marmalade glaze.

My usual practice is to put the chicken in buttermilk with a heck of a lot of salt, some hot sauce, and fruit "nectar," and leave it in the fridge for a few hours before reseasoning, flouring and frying. I feel that buttermilk enhances the flavor and brings enough acid to the party to do some tenderizing. I also feel the salt makes enough of a contribution to continue using it. I'm not the only good cook in the world -- or for that matter on this thread. As far as I'm concerned, our different methods are intriguing and fun.

Is brining a good technique for fried chicken? Yes it is. Is it a necessary component in the same way as say flour? No. Feel free to try the recipe, to use the brine for other purposes, or not at all. My recipes are evolving expressions of how to produce reliable, straightforward food. If you want stone tablets, look elsewhere. But, do give the brine a try before judging the results.

BDL
post #11 of 12
They and the other chicken places do it by using a VERY CONCENTRATED MSG LOADED dry seasoning that is tumbled on and let to marinate for 24 hours before they start to fry. When they do fry the chicken is dredged in a flavorful seasoned thick batter and then into a seasoned flour mix. It goes right into the fryer and cooks for X amount of time. The secret is in the marinade and the fact they let it marinade for so long.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
BDL you say that you marinade the chicken in buttermilk with a whole heck of a lot of salt in it plus spices. How long exactly and does that constitute a brine?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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