Thyme Blossom-Brined, Chinese Five Spice & Buttermilk Deep Fried Chicken
About 3 weeks ago, hubby hinted at his Father’s Day wish list. It was short – very short. He said, “you know what I want for Father’s Day??” Now, at this point, my ears perked! I have a hard time coming up with gift ideas & always appreciate some tips. Can you guess what he asked for? That’s right! Real – deep-fried, extra crispy fried chicken. Now, this is the point where I had a flood of thoughts burst into my mind:
Isn’t this a fancy outdoor kitchen set-up??
- I have never made deep-fried chicken before.
- There is a good reason — it is crazy messy.
- I do not want a greasy film all over my nice new kitchen.
- Hey – this would be a great time to try out that Cool Daddy fryer I got David for Father’s Day a few years ago!
- I wonder how I should make it.
- It definitely needs to be brined first.
- I think I should add an Asian twist to this fried chicken.
- I think this will work.
I would consider myself a fairly experienced briner. We have brined Cornish hens and turkey several times & a whole chicken once ((I think..)). BUT – I have never brined chicken legs and thighs. I am letting you know this as more of a set-up to a confession. Let me just get it out!! The chicken was… so SALTY. Even admitting it now, I still cringe – parched mouth and all.
Mom & dad joined us for Father’s Day lunch – and mom was so relieved when I said out loud “This is too salty!!”. “Yes!!” she exhaled. Haha (kind of). So, what went wrong?? Mom quizzed me – how much salt was in the flour? ((not too much there)). Was it the brine?? How much salt & water did you use?? ((just the right amount)). We couldn’t figure it out – but one thing remained…it was almost like eating a salt lick. I actually wouldn’t know what it is like to eat a salt lick, but after eating this chicken, I think I have a better idea.
At this point you may be feeling the urge to pass on this recipe — please don’t! I have figured out the exact problem!! Actually there were two big problems. I think it is important to share with you my mistakes. I am certain I will never commit them again. Possibly by sharing these errors with you, you can avoid them too!!
- The length of time I brined the chicken!! I brined it too long!! After researching, I found 1 hour is all the brining time dark chicken needs. YIKES!! I brined ours almost 20!! Kill me now.
- RINSE the brine off & pat dry before dipping and coating. As I pulled the chicken out of the brine, I remember hearing a tiny voice say – “You should rinse that chicken before you do anything else…” But then I thought, “The flecks of thyme blossom and cracked pink and red peppercorns are so pretty – what a shame to wash something that pretty down the drain.” That was a big mistake.
For the coating, I used a 1:8 ratio of flour to corn starch ((hello crispy!!)), 1/2 T kosher salt and pepper and 1½ T Chinese Five Spice seasoning. I dipped in buttermilk and then in the seasoned flour, tapped off the excess and repeated until all of the chicken was coated. Thankfully, I never used the fish sauce pictured. If I had, I am sure I would be suffering from sodium poisoning!
Aside from the salt problem, this chicken was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. So juicy, crisp and the Chinese Five Spice??? It sang through everything ((even the salt)). It was so good! I asked dad and the boys if they thought it was too salty and they all agreed it was perfect. David thought it was a bit salty, but that didn’t keep him from eating 3 pieces! (It was still salty, but describing it as a salt lick may be an exaggeration!)
Now that I have pin-pointed the problems, I can’t wait to try it again! I am sure it will be eye-popping and heart-stopping ((and not because there’s too much salt!!)).
- 8-10 c cold water
- 1/2 c kosher salt
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/4 c crushed peppercorns*
- 20-30 sprigs of fresh thyme**
- 2 c flour
- 1/4 c corn starch***
- 1 T kosher salt
- 1/2 T freshly ground pepper
- 1&1/2 T Chinese Five Spice
- 2 c buttermilk
- we used 5 legs and 5 thighs
- Peanut oil
- Combine brining ingredients in a large mixing bowl - stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved. Place chicken pieces in a gallon sized bag & pour brine mixture over the chicken. Seal baggie, place in a bowl in the fridge & leave for no longer than 1 hour for dark meat and 2 hours for white.
- It may be easier ((if your chicken pieces are large)) to divide the chicken & brine mixture into 2 gallon-sized bags.
- Once brining is complete, remove chicken from baggie, discard brine & rinse chicken under cold water. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and lay it out on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
- Preheat deep fryer, or oil to recommended temp. Our "Cool Daddy" recommended heating the oil to 375°.
- While oil is pre-heating, place buttermilk in a shallow bowl and combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Dip each chicken piece in buttermilk
- Tap off excess
- Dip chicken in seasoned flour
- Tap off excess
- Set coated chicken on a parchment lined baking sheet
- Repeat until all chicken is coated.
- Our fryer could only for 4 pieces at a time - but you can place 4-6 pieces (or follow manufacture recommendations) in the basket & fry 13-18 minutes depending on the size & type of chicken. (For us, legs took 13 minutes & thighs took 16 minutes.)
- Test a few pieces of the chicken by inserting a knife -- looking for juices to run clear.
- Serves 5-6
- *My peppercorns are pink, red, green & black - that is why the flour mixture has red flakes in it.
- **My thyme recently bloomed. No sense in throwing the flower heads away! Just toss them in with the rest of the brine ingredients.
- ***if you want extra crispy chicken, adding corn starch to the flour will do the trick!