Back in the day, when I was growing up, my mother used to make Kerala-style fried chicken. Or whatever it was, but it was good. Using spicy 4C bread crumbs, I thought it was delicious. Over time as she got older, she started baking chicken instead, resulting in mushy tasteless chicken that was supposedly “healthy.”
I resolved to learn how to make my own fried chicken. I didn’t need to necessarily recreate her old recipe, but I wanted a version that was spicy and good.
Last month, I took a trip down to Nashville to meet up and hang out with some friends. On our second night, we went to Hattie B’s in the city, and my God, that had to be the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. Spicy. Flavorful. Delicious. I wanted to make this! I found the recipe for Hattie B’s Hot Chicken (hot chicken is a Nashville thing), and decided to recreate it. If it worked out, I’d have something for my repertoire.
I bought all of the necessary ingredients last Wednesday, but by the time I wanted to start the dry brine on Friday, the $20 worth of chicken had gone bad. Argh. I went back Saturday night to buy 8 lbs of chicken. I did the dry brine of ground black pepper and kosher salt, and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Sunday evening around 6:30 pm, after we purchased and set up the Christmas tree, I started making fried chicken. I was making two batches — Hattie B’s and a regular batch of non-spicy southern fried chicken for the kids.
I made the batch of non-spicy southern fried chicken first, which was very easy.
Heat your oil to 325 degrees. Put your brined chicken in a large Ziploc bag with 3 cups of white flour. Sufficiently coat all pieces, shake off the excess, and fry for about 18 minutes. Done. Verdict? Kids liked it a lot.
The Hattie B’s Hot Chicken was much more involved. You have to make a dredge. You have to make an egg wash with Louisiana-style hot sauce. You also need to mix some of your hot cooking oil with cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and a few other ingredients for the spicy coating.
This is where it gets intricate:
1. Roll the chicken in the flour mixture.
2. Dunk it in the egg wash.
3. Roll it around again in the flour.
4. Fry it for 15-18 minutes.
5. Remove, place on a grill rack to cool slightly.
6. Brush on the spicy coating.
But, wait, there’s more! Frying with oil is tricky so don’t let the oil spill out. Frying food will also stink up your house for at least 24-48 hours. And cleanup will take a long time afterwards.
Lessons learned? I’d do it again, but a smaller batch — preparing and frying 8 lbs of chicken was a lot to do. And I need to figure how to NOT stink up the house.