Yelly Eats

Yummy buttermilk fried chicken!

I’ve always said that Spit and Roast buttermilk fried chicken is, quite possibly, the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in the UK.  Alan and I had a street food phase were we went to venues where various purveyors of gorgeous street food congregated and indulged our epicurean tendencies.

It was a stroke of luck that I bought a copy of the Sunday Guardian when I did all those years ago, because they shared their recipe for their fried chicken.  It certainly felt like I won the lottery!  This recipe is inspired by Spit and Roast’s recipe for buttermilk fried chicken.

Ingredients

For the marinade:

  • 8 – 12 pcs chicken thighs, deboned but with skin on
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 heaping tsp paprika (I like to use the sweet variety and not the smoked one)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 287ml cups of buttermilk (in a pinch you can use Elmlee, use the single cream variety as it has more buttermilk content

For the dredge:

  • 1 heaping tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 heaping tsp paprika
  • 200g plain flour
  • 200g cornflour

The original Spit and Roast recipe calls for thigh and drumstick pieces. But I’ve found that using deboned thigh pieces makes for easier eating. I also keep the skin on because friend chicken skin is oh-so-delicious and the coating makes it so deliciously crispy! So anyway, here we go

Directions

  1. Debone your thigh pieces (you can use skinless, deboned thigh fillets but it makes for slightly drier fried chicken).
  2. In a ziplock bag combine the buttermilk, salt, black pepper, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Make sure everything is mixed well. I use the ziplock bag because it’s so much easier to massage the chicken pieces through the plastic. But, of course, you can always use a bowl that has a lid. Marinade the chicken for at least 4 hours but overnight always produces best results.
  3. When you’re ready to cook.the chicken, take the chicken out of the fridge. In a large bowl, combine all the dredge ingredients, making sure everything is well-incorporated.
  4. Dredge each chicken piece individually, making sure that when dredging you scoop flour onto each piece and they feel dry to the touch. Shake off the excess flour.
  5. Fried chicken is always best deep fried, but if you don’t have a deep-fat fryer or don’t want to deep fry your chicken, you can always shallow fry the chicken in a deep wok or a big frying pan. Fill the pan with 1 1/2 inch of oil. Spit and Roast suggest oil temperature of 150°C but if you don’t have a heat probe, you can test the heat with a piece of bread. If the piece of bread crackles in the oil, then it’s hot enough.
  6. Make sure you lay the chicken away from you when putting it in the oil (Safety first!). Fry the chicken for 10 to 12 minutes, turning 2 to 3 times to make sure everything is evenly and nicely browned.

If you’re frying a lot of chicken pieces, you can put the chicken pieces on kitchen paper in a pan so the excess oil is absorbed and put it in an oven preheated to 100°C to keep them warm and the s

kin crispy.

I serve my fried chicken with gravy, coleslaw and cornbread. Enjoy!

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Yelly Eats

BIRD is not the word

Given the choice between beef, poultry, pork and seafood, I would choose poultry over pork, then seafood then beef.  Beef is probably the best source of protein, but I would chicken over most meats any day.

In the last quarter of 2014, I wrote about my Chicken Bucket List.  It was a list of up-and-coming places to eat that specialised in chicken that I wanted to try (the London food scene is alive, well, vibrant and varied!).  I must admit, the underlying criteria was that the places needed to serve some sort of Southern fried chicken-style dish.

It was their claim that they “served the best free range fried chicken you’ve ever tasted” that drew me to wanting to try their food.  I mean it’s a very brave and bold claim certainly.  The people at Bird must trust their food that much to make that sweeping generalisation.

I went to the Shoreditch restaurant and got there fairly early (I had misjudged how quick it was to walk from Liverpool Street station to the Shoreditch location – clearly I did walk faster than I thought).  So anyway, I was cool with having to wait outside and sit on the benches situated outside the restaurant.  It was fine.  Besides, Shoreditch is a very interesting place and there will always be something to see.

Bird ShoreditchSo when the restaurant finally opened (nearly 45 minutes later than what was on the doors), my tummy was rumbling excitedly.  I love Southern fried chicken, and while I cannot claim to be an expert, my Spit and Roast-inspired buttermilk fried chicken is really good.  Bird was one of the very few places at the time that served chicken and waffles.  I was hoping to get gravy and maple syrup.

More Bird spaceThe space was okay.  Nothing too styled, it was clean and not cramped, if a little dimly lit (it was located right next to a bridge, almost under it, so I wasn’t expecting a space awash with light!).  The decor was kitschy but cute, with framed caricatures of chickens.

Bird SpaceThe staff were nice enough, seating us in one of the table-chairs-banquette spaces that was nearer the Bird doughnut hatch, on the left side of the restaurant.  It was quiet and I loved the fact that it was the quieter side of the room.  I was ready for a relatively spiritual experience.  After all, we were talking about chicken and waffles here!  So orders (from slightly smudged menus) were taken and I ordered what I came to order: fried chicken and waffles (I was disappointed that it didn’t come with gravy as I’d wished, but that was my fault because I didn’t check out the menu online before I went.  They didn’t have any gravy on the menu).

Bird menuThe service was friendly and efficient and soon, plates of chicken pieces and fresh waffles were slide in front of us.  I’m not sure whether it was just that it was the early hour or if it was just the location.  But my chicken looked wrong.  I know that they battered their chicken and they didn’t bread it, but I found it a bit awkward that the chicken piece I was given had a scaly bit exposed – don’t get me wrong, it didn’t affect the flavour, it was just not pleasant to see.  We do eat with our eyes as well.

It went downhill from there.  I visited their website that evening and it does say that their chicken isn’t Southern fried chicken.  It’s fried chicken.  Granted it is fried, but you do get succulent fried chicken.  My chicken was dry and overdone, painfully so.  I’m not too certain how the chicken is prepared, whether it’s brined or marinated in buttermilk, but my piece of chicken wasn’t battered very well.  The batter had a bitter aftertaste, probably signalling that it had been left a little too long in oil that was a little too hot.  Mind you, I’ve incinerated enough chicken so I wasn’t too fussed so much.  It was just that the chicken was so dry that it was quite a struggle to adequately make a dent in the two pieces of chicken that my two waffles were served with.

Bird chicken and wafflesThe waffles were really nice, if a little on the light and thin side.  I loved that it was more savoury than sweet with the addition of spring onions.  Usually the waffles, in my humble opinion, provides the sweet element, to the sweet-salty flavour combination (the salty element provided by the chicken).  It was a refreshing change to have a properly savoury waffle.  It was great to be able to drench it in proper maple syrup.  I must say that I would probably happier just having the savoury waffles and the maple syrup instead.  But the restaurant is meant to specialise in poultry (its name is Bird).

Bird wafflesI realise that everyone has their opinions and food is a relatively subjective experience.  But I was disappointed.  It wasn’t the chicken experience I was expecting, and for me, it wasn’t the best free range fried chicken experience.  I probably won’t go back to any of the other Bird locations.

Sadly, for me, BIRD was NOT the word.

Yelly Eats

Dry rub Yelly-style!

I love cooking meats low and slow.  There is a nuance of flavour that you can’t get anywhere else.  Plus, it’s one of the easiest ways of cooking.  You mix your spices for the rub, you slap it on the meat then bung the meat into an oven and (almost) forget about it.   I particularly like slow roasting pork.  I’ve tried a few rubs and I think  I think I’ve cracked the whole dry rub thing, at least for my pork.  I’m happy to share my recipe because I think it works really well.

  • 200g dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli pepper

Just mix all the ingredients together.  This will be enough for at least 2 kilos of meat (pork shoulder or beef brisket work best).  Place the meat in a baking tray lined with baking parchment and then covered with foil.  I put a piece of parchment in between the foil and the meat so that the foil doesn’t stick to the meat.  Preheat your oven to 220°C.  Once the oven is heated, put in the meat.  Cook at this temperature for 20 minutes and then turn the oven down to 150ºC and cook for at least 5 hours.

Then serve with coleslaw and cheesy cornbread! Voila!

If you’re trying out my recipe, I’d love to hear from you!  I’d love to know how you got on.

Pulled pork, southern style