Another American favorite. It all started with Bon Appétit’s February issue dedicated to Southern cooking and fried chicken. Chicken is tough in our house, because someone is very picky about what he eats. No fat, no grissel, no nerves, no dark meat. It’s complicated. What’s a girl to do when limited to skinless chicken breasts meticulously cut into bite-sized, fat-free pieces? Chicken strips, of course!
These were awesome. Yes, they were chock-full of vegetable oil (although not greasy, at all) and gloriously fried, so not an everyday dish. However, if you’ve got friends or family coming over or just feel like a splurge, I highly recommend them. They were very quick to make; no overnight spice rubs or soaks here. They were also a team effort in the kitchen, which is always fun. I would not recommend making these alone, as one person needs to dip and batter the chicken while the other keeps an eye on what’s currently frying and turns, removes when cooked, etc. It was a fun evening in the kitchen, followed by an ecstatic time at the table, as we both oohed and aahed over the juicy, spicy, perfect chicken.
Ginger and spice fried chicken strips
Vaguely inspired by Bon Appétit
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized or “strip”-sized pieces
3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1/2 C flour
3 T cornmeal
2 T ground ginger
1 t paprika
1 T piment d’espelette or 1 t cayenne pepper + 1/4 t
1-2 t salt + 1 t
1 t black pepper + 1/2 t
1 egg, beaten
1/3 C buttermilk
Once cut, add your chicken to a medium-sized bowl and season with the garlic, extra salt, extra pepper and extra piment d’espelette or cayenne pepper.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, ginger, paprika, piment, salt and pepper with a fork until just combined. In a separate bowl, mix the beaten egg and buttermilk (or milk with white vinegar if you don’t have buttermilk, I didn’t!) and set aside.
In a large pan, heat a neutral oil, such as vegetable, over medium-high heat. I used about 1/3 inch of oil. Once the oil is very hot (you’ll know it is if a drop of water sizzles violently), begin adding your chicken in batches. Using one hand, dip one chicken piece in the egg/milk mixture, letting the excess run off. Add to the bowl of flour. With your other dry hand, carefully cover the piece of chicken with flour and then gently roll it around, leaving a thin coating on the meat. Add to the pan and repeat with remaining chicken, trying your best to keep your dry hand dry!
Cook for about 7-8 minutes per side, turning each piece of chicken once it has turned a deep golden brown on the bottom. Total cooking time should be about 15 minutes, but will vary depending on the size of your strips, oil temperature and quantity, etc. Cut into the first piece or two to make sure that it is cooked thoroughly. Serve with the sauce of your choice. I used ginger mustard, but quickly realized that I preferred my strips without any sauce at all!