I will be following up this post with my Beer-Brined Brisket recipe, but this turned out SO GOOD that I had to publish it first!
First the disclaimer: Foodbuzz offers periodic challenges to its Featured Publishers, and I jumped right in. This particular challenge was to use one of the New Belgium Beers in a recipe. This is my offering.
Seasoned Beer-Brined Chicken
This brings a whole stack of yummy to the table and I can say easily that it is probably one of the best fried chicken recipes I ever stumbled upon. And I did it myself! It was incredibly delicious – I had guests who were eating wings over the sink (“I don’t need no steeking plate!”) – and were raving over the flavor.
Want a great fried chicken? Use beer! Or, even better, use Ale.
There are a couple of secrets to this fried chicken which are way off the typical beaten path. One is the beer brine. This is what I used to make the beer brine:
About six cups of warm water
1-1/2 cups kosher salt
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/4 cup each of the following spices
garlic powder (can use granulated)
2 tbs each of the following spices
Combine all ingredients. If necessary, use a pot to dissolve the kosher salt and sugar, but I’ve found that just using hot tap water may do the trick. After allowing the water to cool (or, if you’re in a hurry, throw in some ice cubes), pour in at least two bottles of New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Ale. I, um, *tasted* about half a bottle and then poured it and two others into the mixture. Drop your raw chicken pieces of any combination into the cooled brine. I used one whole chicken (free range) and a boatload of wings. Let them brine in the fridge 2-4 hours. Much more than that and the meat gets a little too salty and, believe it or not, too soft.
While the chicken is brining, prepare your seasoned flour.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup corn starch
2 tbs poultry seasoning
2 tbs freshly ground black pepper
The corn starch adds a lightness and snap to the finished crust, and it’s not something you’ll generally find in a fried chicken recipe.
The chicken is fried in a 3-qt cast iron dutch oven. I used a wonderful canola/olive oil blend that I found at Smart N Final, a small-scale big box store popular in a few of the western states.
It’s important that this chicken is deep fried, so pour enough oil to fill the dutch oven about half, and then let it heat to about 325F. If the temperature is much higher, it may scorch the chicken. Let me rephrase that – it *will* scorch the chicken!
Take a sheet pan, cover it with paper towels and place a fine meshed rack above the towels. You don’t need the rack, but helps to keep the chicken from sticking to the paper towels.
Preheat your oven to 275F. It will be where you’ll be placing the fried chicken on the rack to make sure that it’s cooked all the way through and it helps to further crisp the skin.
And now for the fun part!
Take the chicken directly from the brine and dredge it in the seasoned flour. Because there’s no egg or buttermilk involved, it is not necessary to pat or air dry. The brine will ensure that the flour mixture sticks to the chicken and adds to the flavor of the crust. No, it’s not too salty without rinsing.
Drop it into the hot oil and let it fry until it’s a golden brown. Turn if necessary. When the chicken floats to the top, it’s done. Put finished pieces on rack or paper towels and let them rest in the oven. After the last pieces go in, turn off the oven and wait about ten minutes before digging in.
While mashed potatoes would probably be a great accompaniment, I found that a small green salad and a glass of the 1554 made an almost perfect meal.