This was fantastic fried chicken. Not only does this taste fantastic, but you can use up leftover pickle juice. Yeah, I know. Most people simply pour it down the sink, but The Goddess hates waste, so this was the perfect solution. And it brings back a wonderful childhood memory…my mother’s fried chicken. This came about because I was reading. I try to do that as often as possible. Most people read fiction, biographies, history, etc, but I read cookbooks. It’s my passion and my downfall. That’s right. The Goddess is a fallen woman. You do realize that men lost control of the world when we women learned to read! But, I digress. So, I was reading about fried chicken marinated in pickle juice on Leite’s Culinaria. David Leite has a great blog. He’s interesting, fun to read, has a terrific sense of humor and some damn fine recipes; all things The Goddess appreciates in others. Do check it out. Here’s his version. This is mine; I cheated. He didn’t!
Over at Leite’s Culinaria, they make a pickle brine from scratch, but you see, there was this jar of bread and butter pickle juice sitting there on the counter. I had just downed the last pickles and was going to toss it, but I just hadn’t gotten myself around to it. You know. There were bigger fish to fry…so to speak. So, I read David’s post and thought, why not give it a try?
I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but you can use whatever cut you prefer. You can cut the thighs into strips about 1-1 1/2-inches wide and have boneless “wings”. If I were to use dill pickle juice, I might add some poultry seasoning to the dredge. Speaking of “The Dredge“, I used my usual coating mixture of extra fine cornmeal, which is so fine it’s flour-like, rice flour, a little baking soda, but with just a few tasty additions. It’s simplicity itself and I just throw whatever is leftover in the freezer for the next time. That’s it and you can find recipe here! I don’t use the traditional egg wash, but just pull the chicken out of the brine, gently shake them off and dredge my little heart out. I let the dredged pieces sit for at least 15 minutes and redredge. That’s it. Pour some oil into the frying pan. Feel free to use lard. There is no question that the chicken will taste better. It just does. But, I’m using vegetable oil, and my favorite cast iron skillet. I highly recommend cast iron for frying chicken (or fish—it’s the same dredge, by the way). It holds the heat and you can use slightly lower heat, so you’ll have less splatter. And last, but not least, do not over-crowd the skillet. The chicken pieces shouldn’t touch or they will then to steam done, stick together and not brown properly. These were very pretty large thighs, but most of the time I can easily fit 3-4 thighs in the skillet at once. If you’re frying in batches, keep the thighs warm in a 200° oven, until you finish frying all the chicken. I usually don’t do this, as I prefer to let the chicken rest and be served warm, rather than serve it so screaming hot you can experience what the chicken just experienced!
Now see, that wasn’t difficult.
Pickled Fried Chicken
- 1 cup pickle juice (save from either dill or bread & butter pickles)
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or whatever pieces you prefer)
Pour the pickle juice over the chicken in a freezer bag. Close it tightly and place it in a bowl (just in case it leaks!). Refrigerate for at least 12, but not more than 24 hours (see the NOTE). When you’re ready to cook the chicken, remove it from the fridge, carefully pour off the marinade, but do not dry the chicken. You want it to be wet, so the dredge will stick.
Combine the dredge ingredients in a paper or plastic bag. Close tightly and give it a good shake to completely combine the ingredients. Drop a piece of chicken into the bag and shake gently. Use your fingers to make certain the dredge gets into every little nook and cranny. Remove the piece; set aside on some parchment or waxed paper. Repeat until you’ve used all the chicken. Let the chicken sit for 15-20 minutes. Redredge.
Pour oil into the skillet to a depth of a good 1/4-inch; the oil should come about half way up the pieces of chicken. Heat the oil until it reaches about 350°F. Gently place pieces of chicken into the skillet, being careful not to crowd them. They should not touch (this will ensure crispy chicken). Lower the heat and continue to cook for 2 minutes; turn and continue to cook until done, about 3-4 additional minutes. It may take longer if you use large pieces of chicken and if you choose to use bone-in pieces.
Remove and immediately sprinkle with salt. Let stand at least 5-10 minutes before serving. Can be served hot or cold. Get out the picnic basket!
NOTE: I used bread and butter pickle juice, so I added 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, as I wanted to counteract the sweet a bit. I highly recommend using the bread and butter juice. Do not over marinate, or the meat may become mushy. No more than 24 hours for thighs and I think probably 12 hours for breast meat. If you are using large pieces of chicken, you might want to brown them, then finish them in the oven. This will prevent the chicken from over-browning.
“Pickled” Fried Chicken Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2016. All rights reserved.
This was stupid-good. I will never, never, never toss out pickle juice again. This was just too good to be believed and I’m forever grateful to Leite’s Culinaria for putting the idea in my head. David, you’re brilliant!
For me, fried chicken and burgers are summer. But truly, at our table, they both transcend summer. Wonderful fried chicken is a childhood memory for The Goddess and it’s a good one. In summer, cucumber salad made with cucumbers from the garden, green beans from the garden, dressed in nothing but salt, pepper and heavy cream and usually Classically Good Potato Salad, and of course, fried chicken. In winter, it was butternut squash with butter, mashed potatoes and gravy and perhaps carrots and celery cooked together in cream. The flavor of those chickens was sublime. These were true free-range, grain-fed, farm chickens and we raised a lot of chickens. We ate a lot of chicken. I still love it. My father would have absolutely loved this chicken. I can still hear him say to my mother, “That was a fine repast, Mag!”. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. Life is good.