I know there are certain foods that I really shouldn’t mess with, one of them being fried chicken. And after all these years of cooking, last week was the very first time that I made real buttermilk fried chicken without tinkering, gourmetizing or ethnic-tizin’ with funky ingredients like panko, garam masala, five spice or corn flakes. Just fried chicken straight up. And it’s all thanks to my good friend Ree of The Pioneer Woman, who just came out with her very first cookbook called The Pioneer Woman Cookbook: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.
One of the best parts of blogging is the sisterhood bond that blossoms between us gals. Ree is one of my bloggah-sistahs who will bring over a bunch of cheap single-serve generic wine from the corner market in a brown baggie and chocolate candy to our hotel room and giggle until the late hours with the gals. I love that we’re both on our book tours at the same time, me takin’ on the big cities of the two coasts and she taking her entire family to blanket the middle of the U.S.
If you are lucky enough to be near any of the cities that Ree and family will stop at, please do go seek her out. She’s loving, genuine and I promise she’ll make you giggle too.
I promised Ree that I wouldn’t ethnic-tize her fried chicken and she promised me she wouldn’t try to country-tize my Chinese Broccoli and Beef when she cooked from my book! I’m proud to say that despite all the temptations of my spice drawer, I kept true to my word.
After mixing the flour with the spices, pour in the buttermilk and milk mixture. Use a fork to stir it up a bit until it’s a crumbly, shaggy mess. Shaggy is good. Shaggy means maximum crisp, crunch and happy times.
Now take a piece of buttermilk-soaked chicken and cover it in that flour mixture. Notice I didn’t say “dip” – you want to press that flour into that chicken good! More flour = more happiness.
Heat up your oil and in goes the chicken, just a few pieces at a time so that it’s not overcrowded.
Now cover the pan up. I’m soooo cowboy. I own a Lodge!
Fry for a few minutes, uncover and remove the fried chicken to a baking rack sitting on top of a baking sheet. Once all your chicken is fried, let it bake in the oven to finish cooking.
Do you now see how shaggy = the highest form of enlightenment? This is Buttermilk Fried Chicken, unplugged, unaltered, unethnic-tized, ungourmet’d
Directly after the buttermilk fried chicken dinner, Andrew and Nathan wrote Ree a little note:
Dear Mrs. Pioneer Woman,
We love your buttermilk fried chicken. If you have any openings at the The Pioneer Woman Ranch, we will come work for you if you feed us fried chicken every day.
We aren’t cowboys, but we sure learn fast. I think we have the right skills and in fact our lives are very much the same as yours.
You wrestle cattle. We wrestle and beat up each other:
We can brush your horsies like we brush our friend’s pet pot-bellied pig, Wilbur.
We’ll even scoop porch poop for you. We scoop poop from our hermit crab tank.
And if Oklahoma is anywhere near the ocean, we can even catch dinner.
BIG HUGS & LOVE,
ANDREW AND NATHAN
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cookbook: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond
There are a few secrets that I learned from Ree. The first is the buttermilk bath overnight (no, not you, the chicken). Second, mixing the flour with a bit of the buttermilk makes the breading a little shaggy, which is perfect for maximum crispiness volume. Lastly, baking the chicken after frying ensures that the chicken is cooked through without burning the skin.
serves 6-8 hungry ranch hands (halve recipe if you you're feedin' normal city folk)
1. In a large bowl (or 2 freezer bags) add the chicken with only 1 quart of the buttermilk. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to fry, remove chicken from bowl and let sit on counter for 30 minutes to take chill off.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together the flour, seasoned salt, pepper, thyme, paprika and cayenne in a very large bowl. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk and the milk. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and use a fork to mix until little lumps throughout.
3. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat to 365F. Working in batches, thoroughly coat each buttermilk-soaked chicken piece with the breading, pressing to adhere the breading. Add the chicken to the oil 3-4 pieces at a time. Cover pan and fry 5-7 minutes, checking to make sure chicken isn't getting too brown. Turn, cover and cook additional 3-5 minutes more. Monitor temperature of oil to make sure chicken doesn't burn. Keep in mind chicken will finish cooking in oven.
4. Place chicken on baking sheet and continue frying rest of chicken. When done, bake the chicken for 20 minutes, until chicken cooked through.