Not your ordinary “shake-n-bake” chicken that our grandmothers and mothers use to make.  The chicken is brined first and then coated with a spicy batter before being plunged in hot grape seed oil and fried until golden brown.  Delicious hot or cold.

Fried Harissa Chicken 0909

I have been itching to make chicken curry as well as fried chicken for the past couple weeks.  I could not make up my mind which one to make so I decided to try and combine the flavors of both recipes.  I wanted this fried chicken to be moist and juicy not dried out as most fried chicken is.  So I decided to go out on a limb and brine the chicken before frying.  I made a simple brine of salt and water.  I did not add any spices as the batter for the chicken would take care of the heat.  I have brined a turkey before but never a chicken, I did not want it to be over salty so I only let it sit for 4 hours.  I was amazed at how silky the chicken was when I took it out of the brine, it was as if this chick had spent the day at the spa being rubbed down with sea salts.  The chicken skin and meat incredibly smooth, I knew instantly, this would be the moistest chicken ever!

I made two batters to coat the chicken with, a buttermilk and egg batter and a flour and breadcrumb one.  This is where the heat comes in from the curry dish I was thinking of.  We love Harissa and use it very often, so I took chili flakes and combined it with garlic, caraway, coriander, parsley and black pepper and mixed this with the flour and breadcrumbs.   Before frying the chicken I soaked each piece with the buttermilk mixture and then heavily coated it with the flour mixture.

I don’t use a deep fryer, I consider it just one more thing that we do not need.  I have a big cast iron dutch oven that was my grandmothers and I used that.  I have not used it very often in the past but thinking of fried chicken made me think of her so I brought it out.  I like to use grape seed for frying and even baking chicken.  Grape seed oil can withstand high heat before getting to a smoking point.  The end result is a very light, clean and slightly nutty taste.  After bathing our chicken in both batters I fried each piece hot grape seed oil until golden brown and cooked through.

I served the chicken with a light and creamy polenta dish and just before serving I sprinkled some black Hawaiian salt over the entire plate, not only for color but to add a little more flavor.  The result, the moistest fried chicken I have ever had.  Not over salty, which I am always concerned with when brining and it was slightly spicy but not too hot, just right.  The creamy polenta was a great addition to the meal as it helped cooled down what heat there was in this dish.  You will LOVE this recipe, it is really fantastic!

Recipe:  Harissa Fried Chicken

Brine:

* 1 cup kosher salt
* 4 cups hot water
* 12 cups cold water
* 1 whole chicken, organic, cut up

1. Mix salt and hot water in a very large bowl. Once the salt is dissolved stir in the cold water. Add the chicken to the brine and put in the refrigerator. Brine chicken from 1 – 4 hours. After the process is finished, rinse chicken very well and pat dry with paper towels.

Frying the Chicken:

* 2 cups ap flour
* 2 cups breadcrumbs
* 1 tablespoon powdered harissa
* 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
* 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
* 1 tablespoon coriander
* 2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
* 2 cups buttermilk
* 2 eggs, cage free, organic
* grape seed oil

1. Combine flour, breadcrumbs and spices in a deep shallow bowl or plate.
2. Combine buttermilk and eggs and whisk together until blended, also in a deep shallow bowl or plate.
3. Heat about 1/2″ of grape seed oil in a deep frying pan or cast iron pan, until hot. I used a cast iron dutch oven.
4. Dip each chicken piece into the buttermilk mixture and then into the breadcrumb mixture. Gently shake off any excess. Gently fry in the hot grape seed oil until golden brown and cooked through.
5. Put in the oven, on low heat (about 350) to keep warm, while cooking rest of the chicken
6. Serve. Eat.

Recipe:  Creamy Polenta

* 2 cups chicken broth
* 1/2 cup polenta
* kosher salt, pinch
* 3  tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Heat the chicken broth to boiling.  Stir in the polenta.  Lower heat and simmer until cooked, about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.  Before serving stir in the butter and salt.  Serve.  Eat.

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