Fried chicken and biscuits are quintessential comfort foods. Throw in some vinegar-based hot sauce and honey and you've got yourself a last-day-on-earth worthy meal.
The unstoppable culinary duo needs to be eaten in the comfort of your own home with no one watching and plenty of napkins... for when the finger-licking gets a little too much to handle. You could always go out for a bucket of your favorite crispy clucks, or you can make a batch, in your pajamas.
For those nights when you just need to stay in, here's a recipe for fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits.
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes plus chilling times
Servings: 2 to 4
2 Cornish game hens, or 1 small (3- to 4-pound) fryer chicken
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, divided
3/4 teaspoon cayenne powder, divided
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
1 teaspoon onion powder, divided
Tabasco, or other vinegar-based hot sauce
2 cups buttermilk, more if needed
2 cups flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Wash the game hens or chicken and dry thoroughly. Remove the backbone from each bird (cook with the other pieces, or save for another use), and cut the remaining chicken into 8 pieces (2 breasts, 2 wings, 2 thighs and 2 legs — 9 if you include the backbone). If the breasts are large, cut each in half crosswise to make a total of 10 pieces.
2. In a deep, medium bowl, combine the kosher salt, lemon zest and juice, 1 teaspoon paprika, one-half teaspoon cayenne, the brown sugar, one-half teaspoon garlic powder and one-half teaspoon onion powder and a few dashes of Tabasco to form a rub. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl, massaging the rub all over each piece. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least several hours.
3. The next morning, pour the buttermilk over the pieces and gently toss to coat; the buttermilk should barely cover the chicken; if not, add just enough to roughly cover. Cover the bowl again and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours for game hen, 6 to 8 for chicken.
4. Season the flour: Place the flour, cornstarch and baking powder in a large bag, bowl or baking dish and season with the table salt and one-half teaspoon freshly ground pepper, one-half teaspoon paprika, one-fourth teaspoon cayenne, one-half teaspoon cumin, one-half teaspoon garlic powder, one-half teaspoon onion powder and one-half teaspoon celery salt, or to taste. Taste the flour, and adjust seasoning if desired.
5. About 1 hour before frying, remove the bowl from the refrigerator. Remove each piece from the buttermilk, shaking gently to remove any excess buttermilk (do not attempt to dry the pieces). Dredge each piece in the seasoned flour mixture, coating completely. Shake to remove the excess flour, and continue until all of the pieces are coated. Repeat with each of the pieces, so each is floured twice. Set the pieces aside on a rack to dry and warm to room temperature.
6. While the pieces are resting, prepare the oil: Place oil in a large, heavy-bottom soup pot to a depth of 3 to 4 inches or fill a deep fryer, and heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees.
7. Gently place the pieces in the hot oil, being careful not to crowd. Lower the temperature to 325 degrees and fry the pieces until crisp and golden brown and the meat is firm and opaque, about 8 minutes for game hen pieces and 10 to 12 minutes for chicken (timing will vary depending on the size of the pieces); a thermometer inserted in the meat will read 160 degrees when done. Remove the pieces from the hot oil and drain, skin-side up, on crumpled paper towels. Repeat until all the pieces are fried.
8. Serve the pieces hot or at room temperature.
Each of 4 servings: 829 calories; 37 grams protein; 82 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 38 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 170 mg. cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 1,823 mg. sodium.
Total time: 35 minutes
Servings: 1 1/2 dozen biscuits
1/2 cup dried cranberries (if desired)
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into bits
1 cup buttermilk
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. If using the cranberries, place them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water for 5 minutes to soften. Drain the berries, pat dry and set aside.
Meanwhile, into a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Sift these dry ingredients together 4 times; this will lighten the final dough. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal, then add the buttermilk and the prepared cranberries if using and stir the mixture gently until it forms a sticky dough.
With floured hands, transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead it lightly 8 times. Pat out the dough to one-half inch thickness, and cut out biscuits using a floured 2-inch round cutter. Arrange the biscuits upside down on a greased baking sheet so they just touch each other. (The cutter pinches the edges together, so turning the biscuits over after cutting allows them to rise a bit higher.) Gather the scraps, pat out the dough and cut more rounds in the same manner until the dough is used.
Bake the biscuits in the middle of the oven until they are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the biscuits warm.
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