Skint Suppers Vol. Four: Homemade KFC
Those of you who know me IRL may be surprised at this post, as I'm not exactly a lover of the Colonel's wares. However, recently I have had a serious craving for southern fried chicken (am not pregnant!) and it has been persistent enough for me to want to try and make it myself seeing as I do not have the means to get to the fancy places like Wishbone and Chicken Shop at the mo. Anyone who is a fan of the real dirty stuff, you should also give this a go as it delivers all of the taste satisfaction for a fraction of the price, calories and cuts out the gross MSG that KFC relies on to get its customers addicted. This article on their secret blend makes for very interesting reading, I found.
I used large chicken leg quarters because they were good value and they are a supremely tasty bit of the bird. Most recipes simply suggested I dip the chicken pieces in milk before dredging in a savoury flour mix and frying then baking until done. I wanted to make sure the chicken had as much of a flavour punch as possible, so I kind of marinated my meat in a mixture of milk (I wanted to use buttermilk but forgot to buy it), mustard, paprika, salt and half an onion before very gently poaching for about 15 minutes in the same mixture. Nobody else called for me to poach it, but I thought it made more sense to do that and keep the chicken lovely and moist and juicy whilst parcooking, rather than frazzling it in the fryer or drying it out in the oven at the end just for peace of mind. This method also has the bonus of leaving you wiht a deliciously fragrant pint of liquor perfect for soup making.
Once poached, I cooled it enough to be able to handle before popping the chicken in a dish of half flour half polenta (again, all recipes called simply for flour but I usually use polenta to give fried things a bit of a crunch and thought it would work here - it did) with plenty of paprika and salt. Use way more salt than you think you need. This is not a time for being healthy - you're already saving your body from MSG and huge amounts of oil, so you're owed appropriate levels of salt. Anyway, make sure the chicken is well coated in the flour/polenta mix - I found pressing it on with a spoon was the best way. No flour = no coating.
I don't have a deep fat fryer (who does?) and have yet to be gifted with a Tefal Actifry, which I'm dying to own, so I used a large saucepan and heated groundnut oil to dangerous levels before very gingerly placing the chicken in with metal tongs. It was still pretty terrifying, so do be careful.
My grandad is an amazing cook, and has made it his life's work just about to perfect his own southern fried chicken recipe. Sadly he was indisposed to share this with me in time for this particular dinner, but I do recall he makes a point of 'double dipping' his chicken in the batter. So, after a few minutes of browning and everything looking well, I removed the chicken and re-dredged it in the flour/polenta, again making sure it adhered well before carefully returning it to the oil to finish cooking. The coating is very delicate, so take care not to scrape it off when handling the chicken in and out of the pan. Some of my coating did indeed flake off, and I couldn't resist having a sneaky try of it. I'm glad I did as I realised it was slightly *slightly* too bland, so I chucked some hot chillis and a garlic clove in the oil at the last minute which made all the difference. Don't do this from the off as both will burn and taste acrid. Once it looks lovely and crispy, remove from the pan and set onto a wire rack so any excess oil can drip off.
I served my chicken with some homemade wedges (cut potato into wedge shape, pop onto baking tray and spritz with One Cal Spray, garlic, paprika etc) and a simple green salad with a cool creme fraiche and lime dressing. Hard to estimate calories on this one, but I think for one piece of chicken, a small potato's worth of wedges and salad you're probably looking at around 550 compared with 800+ for the same menu at KFC. It cost about £1.20 a head too.