Classic American ranch dressing herbs and seasonings appear in three components of the recipe—the buttermilk marinade, the flour coating, and the ranch dipping sauce—to pack summer flavors into this fried chicken. You can used boneless thighs to ensure a juicy meat without the time consuming brining process with just taking 10 -15 minutes. Frying the thin thighs takes half the time that bone-in chicken parts require, which allows the fresh herb flavors toshine through. But I prefer brining bone-in, skin on chicken over night in the refrigerator.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH………
Talk about an unlikely origin story. The last thing that anyone expected Kenneth Henson of Thayer, Nebraska, to do during his three-year stint as a plumbing contractor in Alaska just after World War II was to develop a salad dressing recipe that would become one of America’s most popular condiments.
A plumbing contractor? In Alaska? You heard it right. Henson, 29 years old when he decamped for the then-U.S. territory, was a good cook, charged with preparing meals for his work-camp colleagues. A relentless kitchen tinkerer, he developed a buttermilk-based salad dressing that his crew loved.
In the early 1950s, Henson, who eventually changed his first name to Steve, relocated to the hills outside Santa Barbara, where he and his wife bought a 120-acre parcel and opened up a dude ranch, which they called “Hidden Valley.” Henson’s salad dressing was a fan favorite at meal time; eventually the Hensons began sending guests home with souvenir “ranch” seasoning packets.
Henson sold the “Hidden Valley Ranch” brand to Clorox for $8 million in 1972 and closed the ranch shortly thereafter. A shelfstable version of the dressing was created in 1983; today, ranch is the most popular salad dressing flavor in the United States.
Serves 4 to 6
For the Chicken:
One 1-ounce packet Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
3 cups whole buttermilk, divided
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
One 3-pound chicken cut into 8 pieces, rinsed, patted dry*
For the Coating:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the Ranch Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt , to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish
Use a Dutch oven that holds 6 quarts or more for this recipe.
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine dressing mix and 2 cups buttermilk. Seal bag, and shake until blended. Spoon 1⁄2 cup dressing into a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
Add chicken to bag; seal and refrigerate for 8 hours. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Lightly pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with pepper.
For the Buttermilk Marinade: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl. Set aside 1/4 cup buttermilk mixture for ranch sauce.
For the Coating: Whisk all ingredients together in large bowl.
Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Set second wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and line half of rack with triple layer of paper towels.
Working with 1 piece at a time, dip chicken in remaining buttermilk mixture to coat, letting excess drip back into bowl; then dredge in coating, pressing to adhere.Dip in buttermilk and dredge in flour mixture again, pressing gently to adhere coating. Transfer chicken to first wire rack without paper towels. At this point, flour coated chicken may be refrigerated, uncovered, for up to 2 hours.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F. Working batches, add the chicken to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°F, about 12 minutes, turning occasionally. Adjust burner, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 325 and 350 °F.
Transfer chicken to paper towel–lined side of second wire rack to drain on each side for 30 seconds, then move to unlined side of rack. Return oil to 350 °F and repeat with remaining chicken.
For the Ranch Sauce: Whisk mayonnaise into reserved buttermilk mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer chicken to platter. Garnish with chopped chives and serve with ranch sauce.
You can use 8 chicken thighs or 8 drumsticks or a combination of thigh and drumsticks in the place of a whole cut up chicken.
KEY INGREDIENTS: THREE HERBS, THREE WAYS: Fresh herbs were used to further enhance the ranch flavor—chives, cilantro, and dill—in were used in three ways for this chicken: in the buttermilk dip, in the flour coating, and in the serving sauce.
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