The secret to making a perfect fried-chicken sandwich, according to a professional chef
Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.
Who doesn’t like fried chicken? Practically no one.
But who makes it at home? Pretty much the same.
The process can be messy and intimidating. A lot of work. A ton of cleanup.
No wonder so many of us steer clear.
Matt Horn is the chef and owner of Horn Barbecue, in Oakland, Calif., a James Beard Award finalist for best new restaurant in the country. He’s also an avid golfer. When he isn’t smoking drives — or smoking brisket — he is often busy frying chicken at his new Oakland outpost, Kowbird, a counter-service joint serving an array of Southern-style chicken dishes.
We asked Horn to share the recipe for his beloved “Southern Bird” sandwich, along with tips for taking on the chicken-frying task at home.
Light or Dark Meat?
“Light meat is great for salad, grilling or roasting,” Horn says. But if you want to fry? Legs and thighs. Dark meat, the chef says, because it’s moister and more flavorful and more resilient than white-meat cuts.
The Best Kind of Batter?
For breading, “flour will always be my favorite choice,” Horn says. “It’s the classic way of frying chicken.” In his kitchen, he uses seasoned AP flour. For the batter, buttermilk is the way to go, as it adds a depth of flavor and moisture.
Common Mistakes at Home
Under-frying. “The doneness of chicken can be deceiving, based on the color of the chicken” Horn says. A thermometer is a low-cost but critical investment. “It is extremely important to make sure you are finishing your chicken at 165 degrees.”
How to Minimize Mess
Use a large zip-lock bag to house your seasoned flour, and another to hold your ‘dredge,’ or batter. At Kowbird, Horn uses a deep fryer, which is not a tool a lot of home cooks own. If you don’t have one, Horn says to use a large cast iron skillet. Warm your oil to 350 degrees. When you add the chicken to the hot oil, lay it on the side of the pan farthest away from you. That will minimize any hot-oil splash.
How to make Chef Horn’s Southern Bird
1 cup Lawry’s Season Salt
50g mustard powder
47g onion powder
58g garlic power
40g black pepper
2 percent granulated garlic
2 percent granulated onion
1 gallon buttermilk
1) Brine chicken thighs in buttermilk for two nights.
2) Place chicken on baking sheet and allow moisture to flash off slightly so the dredge may adhere.
3) Add flour to chicken and press to evenly coat.
4) Fry for 11min at 300 degrees in canola oil/peanut oil.
5) Toast a potato bun.
6) Spread good-quality mayo on bun to taste.
7) Place pickles on top of thigh.