Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday Tutor: Featuring The Three Little Piglets

Closeup of Chipotle Fried Chicken
Chipotle and Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers


Every Tuesday I choose a different friend to be my tutor for a day: I select one of their original recipes, I make the recipe following my friend's instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I scarf down as much as my belt-line will permit - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Read more about the details for Tuesday Tutor
My tutor today is Jen, a busy working mom from The Three Little Piglets blog. Despite holding down a job and juggling a family, Jen still manages to find time to blog. And to cook. And to take really lovely photos of everything she makes. I'm in awe and Jen always inspires me to keep blogging, to keep cooking, to keep trying.

I've been following Jen's food creations for some time and if you follow Food Fetish Fridays, you've seen some of Jen's creations featured. Like her beautiful and creative Pink Lemonade Cupcakes. But it's not just the food I enjoy - Jen has a very approachable blogging style that's easy to relate to and she shares tidbits from her life which let you meet the REAL Jen behind The Three Little Piglets. If you haven't met Jen yet, go introduce yourself.

About the Author: Fun Facts
  1. "I collect plates the way that most women hoard shoes and purses. It would be completely embarrassing to have to confess just how many I have."
     
  2. "Between you and me (and apparently all your readers) I love, with a capital L, show tunes. The cornier the better! I embraced my inner geek a long time ago..."
     
  3. "I'm completely obsessed with House and Glee. I can't even be insulted when someone calls me a Gleek!"
     
  4. "I couldn't tell a joke if it would save my life! I screw up the punch line every single time. It's just sad. Especially because I'm SO not kidding..."
     
  5. "I started culinary school a year and a half ago to work on a degree in the pastry arts. What could be better than getting paid to play with sugar and chocolate all day long!? Besides if someone else eats everything I bake it will prevent me from becoming the size of a small country!"
Author's Photo

I chose this recipe because everyone should know how to make fried chicken, right? Sadly, until I made this recipe, I had never attempted fried chicken before. The closest I had come was a pan-fried chicken piccata, but let's be honest - that's not really fried chicken! As I read through Jen's simple recipe for these fried chicken fingers, I knew she was the tutor I so desperately needed.

Despite their name, these chicken fingers really have the perfect amount of heat and you don't need to fret about singeing someone's tongue with crazy-hot chili powder. There's a nice kick to perk up the chicken, but you won't go running for a glass of milk. And these chicken fingers are easy to fry - I followed Jen's recipe guidelines exactly and not a single piece of chicken was burnt or undercooked. Just crispy, juicy and delicious.


Chicken Tenderloins
One of the keys to properly cooked fried chicken is room-temperature chicken. So start by
pulling your chicken out of the fridge while you prepare the other ingredients

Canola Oil
Next, heat your oil in a large heavy pot - I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven for this.
The cast iron helps to provide even heat to the oil, but it does take longer to heat and cool.
You want the oil to be close to 350F - I used an instant-read thermometer to test my oil, but
it takes about 15 minutes over medium heat

Franks Red Hot Sauce
While the oil heats, you can prepare the other parts of the recipe, starting with the buttermilk
dip. Jen's recipe calls for Frank's Red Hot Sauce, sos that's what I used. Besides, it's one of the
few hot sauces I found that doesn't include a lit of preservatives or other naughty ingredients
like high fructose corn syrup

Buttermilk
To the hot sauce, you will add buttermilk

Combine Buttermilk and Hot Sauce
You will want pour the mixture of buttermilk and hot sauce into a shallow bowl or pan. I used
a quiche pan for this, but you could also use a pie plate for this

Add Baking Powder and Salt for Self-Rising Flour
Jen's recipe calls for self-rising flour. I don't keep self-rising flour in my pantry, but the good
news is, it's easy to make. Just add 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt for
each 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Then whisk to combine and you've got self-rising flour. Again,
you will want to mix your flour in a shallow pan or plate

Add Chipotle Chili Powder
Once you've got your self-rising flour, add your chipotle chili powder, cracked black pepper
and salt. Whisk everything together and you're coating for the chicken is ready.

Remove Tendons from Chicken
Check your oil - it's probably still not hot enough. You can now prepare your chicken tenders.
See that little white tendon? You will want to trim that away. I used a knife for this, but if you
have a sharp pair of kitchen shears, that would probably work better and faster than a knife

Chicken Ready for Dredging
Once your chicken is trimmed, you're ready to dunk and coat the tenders. I find it helps to
arrange the process in order of task (dunk first, then coat, then set aside) and to work in batches

Chicken in Buttermilk Hot Sauce
I worked with about 6 chicken tenders at a time. First dunk in the buttermilk/hot sauce mixture...

Dredge Chicken Through Flour
...then into the flour mixture...

Coat Chicken Thoroughly
...make sure to coat each tender thoroughly...

Transfer to a Plate
...and finally, transfer the tenders to a plate. Jen recommends letting the coated chicken rest for
about 10 minutes before frying as this helps the batter really adhere to the chicken. I followed
Jen's recommendation and very little of my batter was left in the cooking oil... Now you're ready
to fry the chicken - if your oil is hot enough. 

Fry Chicken in Hot Oil in Batches
Add 3-5 pieces of chicken to the hot oil - but do NOT over-crowd the chicken or you will either
end up with undercooked chicken or burnt chicken. As soon as I add the chicken to the hot oil,
I crank the heat up for about 1 minute to help bring the oil back up to temperature (it cools as
soon as you add the chicken), then I drop the heat to avoid raising the oil temp too high. The
tenders will take about 3-4 minutes per batch - so it all happens really fast

Line Cooling Racks w/ Paper Towels
While the chicken fries, line cooling racks with paper towels.

Good Bubbling Action
Once the chicken reaches a lovely golden color, it's done. It will also be quite firm between
your tongs. (I used tongs to add and remove the chicken, but you could also use a slotted
spoon for this task)

Let Chicken Drip on Paper Towels
Allow the chicken to drain on paper towels. Notice something missing? Yeah - I had to do a
quick quality check on one of the tenders =)

Bring Oil Back up to Temperature
Allow the oil to heat back up to 350F - about 2-4 minutes on medium-high heat

Fry Chicken in Batches
Repeat frying steps until all the tenders are finished. This really doesn't take very long because
each batch only takes about 4 minutes and it only takes a couple minutes to reheat the oil

Plated Chipotle Fried Chicken
Eat immediately - I'm not joking. This photo was taken within 5 minutes of frying the chicken!
Crispy, juicy and perfectly spiced. This recipe is a keeper...



Thoughts while scarfing...
  • There was the perfect amount of spice coating these chicken fingers - enough that I knew it was there without leaving my mouth on fire. However, if you LOVE spicy chicken, you may want to drop in another teaspoon of chipotle chili powder and maybe even a little more hot sauce
     
  • You must eat these chicken fingers as soon as you make them - the crispy batter on fried chicken really doesn't last long and within an hour the chicken will begin to lose its crispiness and become a bit soggy. So do yourself a favor and don't attempt to make these in advance
     
  • If you're new to frying chicken (like me), be sure to read Jen's tips that accompany her recipe. I read each tip carefully and followed her advice and arrived at a very happy place indeed. For example, did you know you should always allow the chicken to warm before frying?
     
  • Perhaps the most satisfying part of this recipe is that I finally learned how to make my own fried chicken. And it's so much easier than I thought it would be! The hardest part is waiting for the fried chicken to cool just enough I could eat it...

Other Must-Try Recipes from The Three Little Piglets
Maybe fried chicken isn't your thing. But I guarantee you'll find something delicious from The Three Little Piglets. Check out these mouth-watering eats and tell me you're not inspired!

Raspberry Lime Muffins
Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
Pineapple Mango Salsa
Breakfast Salad w/ Cinnamon Toast Croutons
Mascarpone Macaroni and Cheese



21 comments:

  1. great how to do photos. Im learning, Im learning!!
    I must say I love spicy chicken but it must not simply burn.

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    1. Archi, I'm glad the photos were helpful and if you love spicy chicken, you'll probably want to add more chipotle chili powder when make these ;)

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  2. Frying chicken can be difficult and there are so many variations out there. I'll be my husband has tried over 13 recipes from Greek to Cajun. Some good, some not so good. I do not have the patience with the big pieces, so the fingers are well suited for me. Your photos here are pretty enticing and you made this look fairly easy, so it looks well worth a try. Thanks for featuring Jen's recipe for Tuesday Tudor!

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    Replies
    1. Jen's recipe has given me courage to continue making my own fried chicken - I'm just happy it turned out so delicious my first time...

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  3. How did you managed to dunk/coat the chicken and still photograph it? That's talent right there! OR you have a camera covered in flour...one or the other. I'm guessing the first though. ;)

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    1. lol - my secret is that I wash my hands between dunking and grabbing the camera. I'm also quite adept at holding the camera with one hand and positioning food or dunking chicken fingers with the other ;)

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  4. I agree. I start with marinating chicken overnight, then bring it back up to room temperature before I start to cook it. It makes a BIG difference! Great post!

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    1. Thanks Ismael - I'm so glad you enjoyed. And I haven't attempted marinating the chicken overnight for this, but that sounds like it would create very flavorful and tender chicken...

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  5. Hi Javelin,
    This looks very inviting. Perfect finger food to be served with cocktails.

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    1. They really were delicious - just be sure to serve them hot ;)

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  6. Great feature!!! And I love the recipe you chose...so yummy!!!

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    1. Thank you Lizzy - I'm so happy you enjoyed :)

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  7. 16 years ago I married a Texan, so I had to get over my fear of frying really quickly! Once you master the basics - which is mostly about the temperature of the meat and the temperature of the oil, you can fry anything on the planet. I'm so glad that those same tips helped you out!

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    Replies
    1. Jen, I feel much more confident now that you've walked me through the basics. I told my boyfriend now I'd be making fried chicken more frequently rather than sneaking off to KFC ;)

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  8. I bet people love being featured on TT as you go through everything so comprehensively! :D

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    1. ::looks around:: I hope they enjoy being featured...? I'm just happy I get to take a break from my recipes because by the time Tuesday rolls around, I'm sick of my stuff ;)

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  9. I am terrified of deep frying. Any tips? Those are some of the best looking homemade chicken strips I've seen!

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    1. I was too, Jody - if you follow the click-thru to Jen's original fried chicken recipe, you'll find some excellent tips for beginning deep fat fryers like me. I recommend checking those tips out first because they really helped me.

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  10. have never eaten fried buttermilk chicken, looks yummy. but i'm so scared of frying because of the clean-up afterwards.. :P

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