Bourbon Brined Fried Chicken

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Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

For the Brine:
One 3 1/2 to 4 pound whole chicken
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 cups steaming hot water
2 cups ice water
2/3 cup bourbon

For Frying:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rice flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoons cayenne, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
Dash of hot sauce
9 cups peanut oil, for frying

Special Equipment:

6 1/2- quart  Round Deep Dutch Oven

 

Directions:

Break chicken down into 10 pieces by removing thighs, drumsticks, whole wings, and bone-in breasts; cut each of the two breasts in half

To a large saucepan, add water, salt, honey, brown sugar ,cinnamon stick and bay leaves and stir until the salt dissolves. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the ice water and bourbon and allow to cool completely. Put chicken pieces into a resealable  gallon freezer bag and pour the brine over the chicken. Seal the bag, set in a large bowl, and chill at least 4 hours, but preferably overnigh, for best results.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cornstarch, salt and spices. Set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together buttermilk and hot sauce, then set aside. Remove chicken pieces from the brine and pat dry. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Dip in buttermilk mixture and allow excess to drip off. Finally, dredge completely in the flour again, and set on a rack over a sheet pan. Repeat with remaining pieces and let stand to allow a crust to form over the chicken while the oil heats.

Preheat oven to 250º F.

Add oil to a 6 1/2-quart deep Dutch oven and heat to a temperature of 350º F.

Carefully add 5 pieces of chicken to the oil and hold temperature around 320 ºF while frying, gently turning chicken once. Fry for 12 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165 º F in the thickest piece. Remove chicken to a rack set over a sheet tray, and hold in the oven while the next batch cooks. To prevent the chicken from buring on the outside  before it cooks through, remove it from the oil and place it  on a baking sheet and place it in the oven where it can finish cooking; check temperature before serving. Repeat frying process with remaining pieces, and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

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Deviled Chicken Livers on Toast with Watercress

I love to serve this dish on thick toasted bread to soak up the sauce. It’s so simple and very budget friendly, If chicken livers are not your cup of tea, you can certainly substitute mushrooms for the livers in this recipe. Most liver is prepared for you these days, but it’s important to remove any white sinewy strings or yellow bits before cooking. Chicken livers are quite rich, so a little devilling with pepper and spices is a great approach. The essential part of sautéing livers is not to overcook them, but to keep them nice and pink in the middle. That way you will enjoy eating them so much more. This dish makes for a really good lunch or supper dish, or a starter for two or more people.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
2 heaped tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 pound chicken livers, trimmed of any sinew and discolouration
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ tablespoon sherry vinegar
Few splashes Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 pieces of sourdough or cibatta bread
1 bunch watercress, trimmed, washed and dried
Splash of olive oil
½ tablespoon capers (optional)
A handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Mix the flour, mustard powder, cayenne and salt and pepper. Put into a flat dish and toss the chicken livers in the mixture. Dust off any excess and put them on a plate in one layer.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan on a high heat. When it is hot, add the chicken livers. When they are all sizzling nicely, turn the heat down a little – you want enough heat to create a crisp coat but not so much that they char. Turn after 2 minutes and cook the other side for 2 minutes.

Lift the livers out on to a warm plate and quickly add to the pan the sherry vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Let these simmer for a moment, then add the chicken stock and stir to deglaze the pan and capture all the flavors. Once the stock has reduced a little, add the butter and swirl it into the stock.

Toast the bread. Dress the watercress with the olive oil, seasoning and capers.

Return the livers to the pan and let them fry for a minute. Throw in the parsley

To serve, place a slice of toast on a plate. Pile the watercress on to the warm toast and spoon the livers and the sauce on top.

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Fancy Fried Chicken Livers

I love chicken livers as much as I love oysters and frying them highlights all the best qualities of the common  grocery store staple, and this quick recipe will make you want to cook them regularly because they are so economical. Really, you can season the eggs and flour however you want, just be bold. Sometimes I use Thai Sweet Chile Sauce, and the hotter the sauce the better—the liver can stand up to it. I like to eat them immediately after frying, when the crunchy exterior gives way to a still-juicy center.

Salt is mandatory plus more hot sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon for lift. Fried chicken livers can be seasoned to almost any taste. You can swap the Old Bay for a combination of roasted sesame seeds and Korean red pepper flakes. Or try sprinkling them with crushed peanuts with a side of fish sauce and lime dressing and shredded cabbage.

Once cooked, fried chicken livers last in the fridge for up to two days, during which time you could simply snack on them cold with a dab of mustard. My favorite way to use leftovers is chopped in a hearty salad of arugula, ranch dressing, and roasted sweet potato, or you can tuck them into a roll with a spicy slaw and some sliced pickles.

Fried Chicken Livers

Photo Credit: TASTE, 2018

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pint container of chicken livers
1 egg
¼ cup hot sauce, plus additional for serving
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
vegetable, oil for frying
McCormick’s OLD BAY® Seasoning
Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:
Rinse livers in cold water and pat dry with paper towels before trimming them of visible sinew, fat, and areas of green discoloration. Separate large connected lobes, but otherwise try keep the pieces as big as possible.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg with a fork until blended, then add hot sauce and mustard. Gently drop the livers in the egg wash and toss to coat. Let them marinate for up to 10 minutes while you prepare the breading.

To make the breading, mix the flour, cornmeal, and the remaining spices in a shallow pan or plate so you can spread the mixture out. Lay the livers on the seasoned flour and let them sit on one side for at least 2 minutes so the coating bonds well to the egg. Gently turn them over and repeat on the other side.

Heat half an inch of oil in a cast-iron or carbon steel pan. Fry the livers until dark golden brown before flipping, which takes about 2 or 3 minutes depending on the size of the piece. 5 minutes. Don’t be tempted to let them go longer than 5 minutes to insure a  perfectly pink interior, which is what you want. This is how you harness the elegant pâté qualities that are waiting to be unlocked, so keep an eye on the smaller pieces. When the livers are solidly golden brown on both sides, they are done on the inside, Be careful when cooking livers, the liver releases a lot of juice while frying on the first side. I like to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes and then sprinkle a pinch of the dredging flour on the top to absorb the moisture and prevent splattering. Flip the livers and continue to cook until they are uniformly brown, another minute to 2 minutes.

Drain on paper towels. Once the livers are fried, you would be almost negligent not to consider another layer of flavor for the exterior, so lightly dust generously with Old Bay. Serve with lemon wedges and hot sauce.