Wednesday, March 15, 2017

An Update to My Gus's Fried Chicken Recipe in Response to an Email - 2017


A. Hi Jay,
I stumbled across your blog as part of my on-going search for the ultimate fried chicken recipe. As a Canadian living in England, I don't know if I can say for sure I've ever had a properly decent piece of fried chicken, so all my info has to come via the internet.
I've been perusing your various notes on Gus's fried chicken, and I was just wondering if you had a more fully-formed recipe I could follow. Not your "final" version, but just the recipe you're working from at the moment, with steps and instructions (brine this long, fry at this temp, use this many chillies...etc.) Is this something you have written down already, or are you more of an improviser?
Thanks so much for your hard work and dedication to such a proud (and often unappreciated) tradition. Hopefully one day I'll have occasion to make use of your calendar of Texas fried chicken picnics, and try the real deal.

Cheers, John



B. Hello John! Thank you for this great email.

I lived in the UK in the early 70's and remember watching the change as more and more American fast food chains came to the UK. We used to go to that original Hard Rock Cafe to get a "proper" hamburger. So much has changed. Now I am sure that KFC is everywhere. I am not certain if the UK has Popeye's or Church's fried chicken franchises yet. And actually, if you get to a Popeye's right when they open and the first chicken of the day comes out of the fryers, it can be pretty darn good.

Currently, if I am making fried chicken for friends, I am using the Donald Link Real Cajun fried chicken recipe that shows up in my March 2013 posting. It is my standard default. I use the same spices that he does, excepting the salt, because I am more sensitive to salty foods.

One of the problems we have here in Texas is that the grocery store chickens are so large that there is a problem assuring that the interior will be thoroughly cooked when the crust color is that golden brown that I desire. Thus, I remove the chicken from the fryer pan when the color is golden, and finish by placing the pieces in an oven at around 300 F to finish cooking.

(You'll note that I skip between English units and metric. My preference is metric because of its precision but I also think in terms of cups and Fahrenheit).

With respect to the Gus style batter recipe, I am now putting 2-3 cups of buttermilk in a blender, processing that with 2-3 fresh jalapeño green chiles that I have toasted on an open flame until the exterior skin is blackened, then peeling the skin and processing the softened chiles with the buttermilk. This bath is what I soak the chicken pieces in for 24 hours. I then remove them, shake off the liquid and dip the pieces in the slurry that I described to fry. This is to get some internal "heat" to be absorbed by the chicken. Though I haven't done it yet, I could see also processing several cloves of garlic at the same time for the marinade/brine.

Thus....
One 3-4 lb chicken cut into pieces, legs, thighs, wings, breast portion cut into four pieces to reduce their size.
Brined for 24 hours in a 2-3 cup buttermilk bath to which has been processed 2-3 roasted, say, 30 grams, and softened jalapeño chiles.
Removed from bath, all excess liquid shaken off and/or pieces dried with paper or cloth towels and dipped in the Gus formula slurry of cornstarch and buttermilk.

Additional note: the original Gus's recipe definitely includes/uses Louisiana style hot sauce and/or paprika. I remember how red their batter was. This recipe does not have that ingredient as I had not worked on that approach as much recently. My recent experiments were to figure out how to get the chicken to have some "heat", thus, my current method of processing jalapeño chiles with buttermilk. Actually I am using a combo of ghost pepper and jalapeño but that is another story for later.

Fried at 325F (note: here is where work needs to be done. I recently judged a fried chicken competition and they did a first fry at 300 F and then removed and did a second fry at 350 F to get the chicken very crispy....I need to work on my temperatures).

Now. My preference is for deep frying where the pieces are totally immersed and not crowded. If you prefer a pan method, that is okay too. You will not need as much oil. But the chicken may be a little greasier if the upper portion that is not fully submerged grabs more oil. Also, because the bottom of the pieces will be in contact with the pan, it will brown more.

When the chicken reaches a golden color, remove the pieces and place into a 300 F oven for about 30 minutes to assure that the interior is fully cooked (you may need to reduce the time) depending on the size of chicken pieces. This is one of the variables that will have to be worked on in your kitchen. Typically it is the breasts, not the legs or thighs or wings that are not cooked all the way through. (What you are looking for and should achieve if successful, is a thin, crackling crust as opposed to the standard, thicker more breadier crust of a seasoned flour/buttermilk dip such as the Real Cajun recipe).

You will note that I did not mention salt or pepper. That is because I do not like overly salty food and prefer to just salt my chicken after it is fried, when served at the table. If you wish, you. Any add 1 tsp of salt to the buttermilk brine. You may also decide to add 1 tsp of salt to the cornstarch and buttermilk batter. Likewise, pepper. If you use the Real Cajun recipe, just use the seasonings that Donald Link recommends.

Now. One further note. In my research around Texas I have seen chickens dipped in ice water followed by seasoned flour, milk and egg followed by seasoned flour, buttermilk followed by seasoned flour. My opinion is that ice water results in the crispiest crunch, followed by buttermilk which is a little more bready but the one most people prefer.

Be sure to plan to serve the chicken hot and don't cover it because any residual moisture or steam will soften the crust and you will lose your crunch. Thus, keeping the chicken in the oven as needed will assist.

One final note. Another "UK friendly" recipe for pan frying, if you don't want to go to this extreme on a regular basis is this very fine chicken cacciatore recipe from Giada de Laurentiis.

Giada de Laurentiis Chicken Cacciatore






4 comments:

  1. Hi, Jay! Fried chickens are beloved everywhere. It is almost like a long-standing staple food for every home. And the way that it can be varied through its breading just makes you want it more! Nice touch on your application of salt. I agree that overtly salty fried chicken tends to overcome the taste. Thanks for sharing!

    Teri Harris @ CaigerAndCoCatering

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you ever come to Jakarta, Indonesia, make sure you try Ny. Suharti fried chicken. This is probably the best fried chicken in the world. I dare to say it taste much better than KFC. You can check it here: delivery ayam goreng suharti. The site is in Bahasa, but you can always google translate it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. thanks for sharing..Amazing stuff continues the good work.
    best soul food

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think im gonna try to replicate how Gus Fried Chicken is cooked. By the way, I'm not just a friend chicken lover, but also enthusiastic about looking for new ways to cook this fine dish, even in a panini press.

    ReplyDelete