I scream. You scream. We all scream for … Pickle Chicken!
I couldn’t really think of a good rhyme. Just go with it.
Even though now I’ve got you thinking about ice cream which likely does not put you in the mood for chicken.
In the early days of switching our eating, we decided that we were not going to eat fast food (except on rare or “special” occasions because it’s part of our world and we prefer not to set ourselves up for failure). Not that we had eaten much before, but we had made our fair share of trips to McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A.
Yes. I know. Shock and dismay. I hang my head in shame and with regret.
But not really, because we didn’t know what we know now. So, it’s all part of the learning experience of life.
Back to the early days … since we had sworn off fast food, I thought I would try my hand at some homemade Chick-Fil-A.
The first time I made this, I think the heavens opened for the children because it may have been the first time that they realized I could make something that they actually, really and truly, love. Sure, there are
lots plenty of some things that they eat and enjoy, but they have some serious adoration of this chicken.
Like fist-pumping, “Yes!”-shouting … the kind of excitement that is usually reserved for everything except food.
Having made it several times, I have tweaked it (and unsuccessfully tried to gluten-free, Paleo it) to the point of near perfection in flavor. Says me. And my three minions. Which should really be enough for you. And gives me license to call it perfect.
It is time-consuming and can make the kitchen a bit fried-smelly so I don’t make it as often as my boys would like, but it is definitely a regular at our table. In fact, I buy this big ‘ole jar of pickles just so that I have enough “pickle juice” to make this chicken.
You can either fry them, or to minimize the mess to the stove top and the time involved, you can flash fry in the skillet and finish them in the oven. I have found that an iron skillet or griddle pan in the oven works best to keep the chicken crispy, but you can also use a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet. Just be sure to warm the pan before you put the chicken on it.
Be forewarned, this recipe is dish-heavy, so I try to make sides that don’t require much time or extra dish usage. If you love dishes and enjoy spending all that time cleaning up in the evenings, then please feel free to make it as complicated as you’d like.
- 5 medium chicken breasts
- 1 cup (or more) pickle juice
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup flour (or ½ cup flour and ½ cup panko breadcrumbs)
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ tsp dry mustard
- Refined coconut oil or palm oil, for frying
- About 8 hours before or, if you can, the night before, cut chicken breasts into similar size pieces. The smaller the pieces the longer it takes to cook, but the more crispy you have in each bite. It's a delicate balance. Figure out which one works for you.
- Place chicken in 1 cup pickle juice, adding enough so that the chicken is completely submerged.
- About an hour (or as much in advance of cooking as possible), remove chicken from marinade and set on a plate covered with a paper towel. It's best to let the chicken dry before coating so that the moisture doesn't cause the breading to fall off (which will disappoint most of your customers ... not that this has ever happened to me).
- In a bowl, combine and stir flour (or flour and panko), paprika, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, baking soda, and dry mustard and set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk egg and buttermilk together.
- If finishing in the oven, preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you're using an iron skillet, place that in the oven at the same time. If using a pan with another material, you can put it in when you start cooking the chicken.
- Drop a hefty tablespoon of your chosen cooking oil into an iron skillet. Warm to medium/medium high heat.
- Dredge one piece of chicken at a time in egg bath, ensuring each side is wet and dredge in flour mixture coating each side.
- Place each flour coated chicken piece on a separate plate.
- When oil is hot (you'll know this because a circle will form in the middle of the skillet), place chicken gently in the hot oil.
- If you're using a cookie sheet and not an iron skillet/griddle pan in the oven, you should put it in the oven now.
- Cook until crispy on either side and then transfer chicken to the pan in the oven. If not putting it in the oven, then make sure the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken to your serving plate. If you're like me, that's just a regular dinner plate. Because I'm not trying to win any awards for fancy dinners. Especially with fried chicken pieces.
I have tried tapioca flour and arrowroot flour, which get crispy but then get gummy as the chicken cools. I have also tried almond flour and I find that the breading tends not to stick.
I have not yet successfully figured out how to let the chicken cool without the bottom losing its crisp. Any suggestions would be most welcome!
Also, make sure to take a bit more than you might want because it will disappear quickly. Like suddenly someone pressed the fast forward button on your table and before you can hit stop, the chicken is gone. And you’re still hungry.
Which is really okay, because you know you wanted ice cream anyway.