Fried chicken can be one of the most delicious and satisfying things to eat. I love the little bit of heat in the spiced flour here. The aioli is somewhat rich, but it pairs beautifully with the crisp chicken.
I serve the salsa in small crisp lettuce leaves drizzled with the aioli, which makes them easy to pick up, just like the chicken. You won’t need cutlery here, as the only way to eat fried chicken is with your fingers.
Purists will wonder why I have not soaked the chicken pieces in buttermilk before cooking, but in this highly flavoured recipe, I don’t find it to be necessary.
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 12–16 small chicken drumsticks or a mixture of drumsticks and thighs, all on the bone
- 1 litre sunflower oil, for deep frying
- 250ml buttermilk, for dipping the chicken in
- 150g plain flour
- 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 4 teaspoons ground white pepper
- 4 teaspoons chilli powder
- 4 teaspoons curry powder
- large pinch of fine sea salt
- 20–30 small crisp lettuce leaves, such as cos or baby gem
- fresh coriander leaves
- tomato aioli
This sauce is perfect with the fried chicken, but I also serve it with fried fish. In that case, I also accompany it with the tomato salsa, as suggested in this dish.
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 anchovies, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon thick tomato purée
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 125ml sunflower oil
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 50–75ml chicken poaching liquid from the fried chicken
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- lemon juice, to taste
Depending on how much chilli you add, you can make the salsa as hot or as mild as you wish, though I like to serve it with a reasonable kick of heat.
- 4 firm, ripe, unpeeled tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1–2 medium-hot fresh chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed to a paste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- pinch of caster sugar
- Simply mix all the salsa ingredients together, then taste and correct the seasoning. I like to eat this salsa on the day it’s made.
- Place the egg yolks, anchovies, tomato purée, garlic, vinegar and mustard in a food processor.
- With the machine running, slowly pour in the oils, as if making a mayonnaise, and process until smooth.
- Now add just enough of the chicken poaching liquid to attain a coating consistency.
- Stir in the coriander by hand and taste the aioli, correcting the seasoning with salt and pepper and perhaps a few drops of lemon juice.
- Place the chicken stock in a saucepan that the chicken pieces will fit into snugly and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and season with a pinch of salt. Cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer very gently until the chicken is tender and cooked through. This will take about 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the stock and allow to cool. Reserve the stock, which will be deliciously flavoured for adding to the aioli.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C.
- Mix all the spiced flour ingredients in a bowl.
- When you are ready to fry the chicken, heat 10cm of sunflower oil in a deep frier or heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless steel saucepan until it reaches 180°C. Dip the chicken pieces in the buttermilk and massage the milk onto the skin thoroughly. Shake off the excess milk and dust the chicken pieces thoroughly with the spiced flour.
- Drop the chicken gently into the hot oil, which should sizzle on contact with the chicken. Don’t over-fill the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop and the chicken pieces will stew rather than fry. A long-handled tongs is the best piece of equipment to use now, as you will also need to turn the chicken pieces every now and then to get them to colour and crisp evenly. Remember, the chicken is already cooked, so you are just reheating the pieces and also of course trying to achieve the perfect golden colour and crisp texture. Remove the pieces from the oil and drain on kitchen paper. Keep them hot in the oven and continue frying until all the pieces are crisp and golden.
- Serve the hot chicken with the crisp lettuce leaves, coriander leaves and aioli and salsa on the side. I sometimes pile a little salsa onto the salad leaves, drizzle with some aoili and finish with coriander leaves – this makes the eating a little easier for my guests.