Done right, fried chicken is a beautiful thing. Unpretentious as this classic comfort food might be, there’s a definite art to it: a tender piece of meat, delicately seasoned and lightly dredged with a dusting of flour, then baptized in a pool of sizzling fat to crisp, golden perfection. And while fans of fried chicken may disagree on the method, we can all agree that it requires technique, time and dedication — fried chicken is not “fast food.”
At Terrine restaurant on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, chef Kris Morningstar offers his take on the classic with a pickle-brined fried chicken. Morningstar doesn’t brine the chicken in actual pickle juice; rather, he brines chicken thighs overnight in a mixture of pickling spice, garlic and fresh dill — at the restaurant, he also injects the thighs with brine for added flavor — and then coats them with a cayenne-flavored cornstarch slurry. After dredging them in a spiced flour coating, he rests the thighs on a rack in the refrigerator for an hour; the extra drying time makes for an extra-crisp crust. Morningstar serves the chicken over a bed of warm grits drizzled with maple syrup. The chicken has just the right amount of savory tang, the pickle brine playing nicely against the sweetness of the maple.