Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich with Chipotle Aioli
There are so many recipes for fried chicken out there and there are all kinds of variations, whether using flour, breadcrumbs, eggless, etc. But the consistent thing that all good fried chicken recipes have, is a brine. Brine ensures that the chicken will stay moist and that whatever flavors you want will be throughout the entire piece of meat. For my brine, I stayed mostly traditional and used buttermilk, salt, and brown sugar, the staples of any good brine. I also used a jalapeño for heat, garlic for flavor, a cinnamon stick for a bit of spice and two kinds of peppercorns for… well pepperiness, and I tell you this, I may not have stumbled upon the colonels secret spice mix, but this fried chicken is just as good, if not better than any chain’s and I’m giving the recipe away for free.
2 Skin-on Boneless Chicken Breasts
1-1/2 Cups Buttermilk
1 Tbs Pink Peppercorns
1 Tbs Black Peppercorns
2 Cloves of Garlic smashed
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbs Salt
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tbs Smoked Chili Powder
1/2 Lime Juiced
1 Cup AP flour
1 Tbs Sweet Paprika
1 Tspn Oregano
1/2 Tspn Black Pepper
1 Tbs Water
Lots of vegetable oil for frying
2 Soft White Rolls
Shredded Savoy Cabbage
I always buy whole chickens and cut them up myself. It gives me the freedom of choosing how I want my cuts. It’s really hard to find skin-on boneless chicken, so you can just buy bone-in and cut it off yourself. It’s cheaper and you can save the bones in a freezer bag to make chicken stock once you have enough, which just may have something to do with the next post…
The way a brine works is the salt in the brine draws water out of the chicken, while simultaneously pulling in the other flavors though osmosis. So now your boring white meat chicken is full of flavor and plump with moisture. The power of science goes beyond the 12th grade classroom! Anyway, it is kind of cool. Mix everything for the brine together except the chicken and cook it just until the sugar and salt melt. Don’t be surprised if the buttermilk separates a bit, it happens and it’s fine. Once the brine is cooked, put the mixture in the freezer to get it down to room temp fast. DO NOT add the chicken to the brine until it is at least room temp, preferably cooler. This will begin to cook the chicken and promote bacterial growth.
Pound the chicken to an even thickness of about 3/4″. Once the brine is cool, add the chicken and let it sit in the brine for at least 4 but no more than 24 hours.
In the meantime you can make the aioli. I make my own smoked chili powder, which is just a matter of buying dried chilies and grinding them in a spice grinder. If this isn’t available to you, you can use regular chili powder and add some smoked paprika for flavor. Squeeze in the lime juice and whisk away. This is best if it sits for a few hours also to let the flavors blend.
When the chicken is done in the brine, make your egg wash and flour mix and go from brine to egg to flour, trying not to take any peppercorns along for the ride.
Get a pot or cast iron pan and fill it with vegetable oil until it will reach halfway up the chicken. Heat the oil on medium high until the oil temp is about 350º or until it’s shimmering a bit. Carefully place one piece of chicken in the oil and fry for about 4 minutes or until it is golden. Flip the chicken and fry the other side for another 4 minutes. Flip the chicken two more times and fry for 2-3 minutes per side until each side is dark brown. Allowing the fried side to rest outside of the oil and frying it again will get it good and crunchy. This is why it’s important not to submerge the chicken in the oil.
Toast the rolls whole in the oven to give them some crispiness on the outside, but leave the inside soft to offset the crunchy chicken. Serve with a good amount of the aioli and shredded cabbage while the rolls are still warm.