Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Never Was a Cornflake Girl

You can just see how juicy this is, sorry about rubbish pics and general carnage of plate!
I am afraid that headline will only mean something to those of you of a ‘certain age’ but, hopefully, for those of you who get it it’s raised a nostalgic smile (for those who don’t understand the reference, hit iTunes and search for Tori Amos, if nothing else, the Armand Van Helden mix Professional Widow has stood the test of time immensely well...).
Anyway, I digress, back to cornflakes… they were never a favourite, even though my beloved granddad would feed them to me. I was always a Rice Krispies fan (loved that snap, crackle & pop) but when I heard of the concept of cornflake ‘fried’ chicken I was intrigued!
Ever since visiting Yardbird in Miami, I’ve become a little obsessed with the whole fried chicken thing, so new variations on a super-crunchy outside had me hooked.
However, what I didn’t realise was that this was supposed to a healthy version of fried chicken cooked in the oven, which (naturally) I completely ignored, and went ahead and fried anyway!
I’m not going to lie, this is a multi-stage process but - oh my - is it worth it when you sit down to indulge! I am not saying you can’t oven cook this, I’m sure you probably can, I’m just one of those people that doesn’t bother with half measures.
To whit, I am going to offer some advice based on the no half measures mantra; making your own buttermilk using lemon juice or vinegar is simply not as effective as buying the proper stuff, I’ve tried on numerous occasions and, frankly, it’s rubbish in comparison.
I’m afraid that the pictures are of my first attempt and not the more successful second, because I was so excited to get in there and eat it, I forgot to take pictures of the finished article. But, no matter, because I’m pretty sure you guys are smart enough to get the general gist of things!
Beer & Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken w/Cornflake Crust
Another truly dreadful pic that makes it look burnt, it's really not! Sorry about my lack of camera skills!
Sharp knife
Chopping boards
Large non-metallic bowl (needs to hold about 3l of liquid)
3 bowls suitable for flour, egg and bread crumbing your chicken
Pestle & mortar
Small frying pan
Deep fat fryer or wok
Large, deep saucepan
Food processor
Slotted spoon
Cooking thermometer
Cooling rack
Baking tray
Kitchen roll
Cling film
Ingredients - for brine/cooking liquor:
1 free-range chicken butchered into eighths or 8 sizeable chicken pieces, skin on
600ml buttermilk (got mine at Sainsbury’s)
2 bottles light summer ale, I used Bath Ales Wild Hare
2 white onions
4 celery sticks – roughly chopped
2 carrots – roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves – smashed
Bunch of thyme – bruised with back of knife
Bunch of oregano - bruised with back of knife
1 jalapeño (or hotter chilli depending on preference) – pierced in several places
5 tbsp Cajun seasoning (I used Bart’s)
2 tbsp smoked paprika
250ml brown chicken stock
4tbsp sea salt
Groundnut oil
 Stage 1:
  1. Warm pan to medium heat, soften onions, celery, carrot for a few minutes, then add garlic
  2. After another minute add the Cajun seasoning and paprika, when they start to become nicely aromatic, deglaze pan with chicken stock and pour into the non-metallic bowl
  3. When cooled slightly add beer, then buttermilk and whisk well, pop in freezer to cool
  4. Place chicken pieces into cooled mixture, cover with cling film and place in fridge overnight
 Stage 2:
  1. Take your bowl of chicken out of the fridge for at least half an hour
  2. Get a large pan, big enough to take the chicken and the liquid and pour it all in
  3. Bring to a temperature where bubbles just break the surface, cook for 15 minutes – check internal temp of chicken has reached 75 degrees C
  4. Allow to cool in cooking liquor
  5. When just warm still, remove from liquor and place on some kitchen towel and return to fridge
  6. Discard liquor
 Ingredients - for the frying stage:
250g breadcrumbs (I use granary bread because I like the nutty crunch)
75g cornflakes
3tbsp Cajun powder
1 tbsp finely-chopped thyme leaves
2tbsp Chipotle hot sauce (I used the Wahaca one)
2 large eggs
100g cornflour
1 litre of groundnut oil
 Stage 3:
  1. Using your thermometer in a deep frying pan or wok, heat your oil to 175 degrees C and turn your oven on to a low ‘keep warm’ heat
  2. Using a  food processor, pulse the cornflakes until roughly chopped and mix with breadcrumbs, add 1tbsp of Cajun seasoning and set aside
  3. Mix the flour, thyme and remaining 2tbsp of Cajun seasoning
  4. Roll chicken pieces in just the seasoned flour and then gently lower into hot oil in batches
  5. Allow to just brown and remove immediately to fresh kitchen towel
  6. Whilst chicken is cooling slightly, whisk your hot sauce into your eggs
  7. Line a baking tray with kitchen towel & put a cooling rack over the top
  8. When all your pieces are done and at a heat where you can hold them, re-roll in flour, then egg mix and finally breadcrumb/cornflake mix
  9. As you crumb each piece, lower it immediately, gently and away from you, into the hot oil
  10. Cook one or two pieces at a time (depending on size of your pan) and then, when they are golden brown, put on cooling rack and pop in oven to keep warm/rest
  11. Repeat until all your chicken is cooked and in the oven resting/draining
  12. I served this with corn on the cob (I first boiled, then dried, brushed with unsalted butter and then popped this in a dry pan to get a bit of smokiness on it) and home-made coleslaw but your sides are your business!
 To Drink:
It’s an American classic, so you can’t not have an American beer with it! I’d just been sent some Fordham to try and the Pale Ale wasn’t a bad accompaniment, but I did find myself wanting something a bit bigger, so an Odell IPA or a Bear Republic Racer 5 would go nicely.
p.s. My attention has just been drawn to what the song I referenced in the headline was about, I was completely ignorant of this and did not mean to be glib in any way, it was just a pop culture comment, will now be making a donation to a charity that fights this kind of ignorant practice post-haste!

p.p.s Said donation now made to @OrchidProject


arn said...

There was a very good interview on 6 music just this sunday with Tori Amos, should still be on listen again iPlayer at the moment.

Bailey said...

This recipe is the one we've been most impressed by. Very, very simple!

Martin said...

I was never a fan of the Armand van Helden mix but Cornflake Girl was a lovely song so I can forgive you casting me as "of a certain age". The recipe looks awesome also. Fried chicken can never be wrong.

Belgian beer said...

This Item is Superb I too tried to prepare this dish.


Susan said...

Thanks to your mea culpa, I now know the backstory on the Tori Anos song lyrics.. I would have never ever made that connection on my own.

Oh, and the chicken sounds amazingly decadent!