Recipe: Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Biscuits and Milk Gravy
From Shivi Ramoutar's Caribbean Modern.
Without a doubt, the Caribbean is a region that appreciates fried chicken! Trinidad apparently has more KFCs per capita than anywhere in the world and a Port-of-Spain branch is the chain’s highest-grossing one internationally. (Bear in mind that Trinidad’s entire population is about one-sixth of that of London!) Enjoy this finger-licking good recipe when you fancy something a little naughty. Because I am a little lazy, I love using boneless chicken and it works beautifully, sandwiched between the torn biscuit. If you want to use chicken with the bones in, do, but increase the cooking time. The biscuits recipe is derived from one that Ma used to make for weekend breakfasts. (To clarify: we ate it with scrambled egg rather than fried chicken!)
You will need:
For the Buttermilk Fried Chicken
8-10 chicken thighs, boned and skinned
2 free-range eggs, beaten
Groundnut oil, for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the biscuits
225g plain flour, sifted
¾ tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
75g cold vegetable shortening, diced
135ml whole milk
30g butter, melted
Pinch of paprika
For the seasoning flour
200g plain flour
8 tbsp paprika
4 tsp dried thyme
4 tsp garlic granules
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the milk gravy
20g unsalted butter
2 tbsp plain flour
120ml whole milk
120ml good-quality chicken stock
1. Using a sharp knife, deeply score the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with a little salt and place in a large freezer bag. Pour in the buttermilk, tie in the freezer bag, leaving enough space for the chicken to be moved around in the bag, and massage the buttermilk into all the pieces. Pop it into the fridge to marinate overnight.
2. The following day, pre-heat the oven to 225C/Gas 7 and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
3. To prepare the biscuits, put the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir together, using a fork. Working quickly, use your fingertips to rub the shortening into the flour, lifting it high out of the bowl and letting it fall back in, incorporating air, until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. (If you wish, you can use a food processor on a pulse setting to do this.) Add the milk gradually, stirring with a fork, until the mixture comes together to form a dough.
4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead no more than ten times.
5. On a large sheet of greaseproof paper, roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Use a 6cm round cutter to cut out six circles of dough and place on the prepared baking sheet.
6. Use the melted butter to brush the uncooked biscuits then sprinkle each with a little paprika. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.
7. While the biscuits are cooking, prepare the chicken. Put all the seasoning flour ingredients into a large bowl (big enough to fit a chicken piece) and use a gork to mix until well combined. Place the beaten egg into another large bowl, next to the bowl of seasoned flour, and a large plate next to this. Take a piece of buttermilk-marinated chicken out of the bag, wipe off any excess buttermilk with kitchen paper and dunk it into the seasoned flour, coating it all over. Tap off any excess flour, dunk into the beaten egg, then back into the flour. Once again, tap off any excess flour, then set aside on the plate. Continue until you have coated all the chicken pieces.
8. Pour groundnut oil into a large, heavy-based saucepan to 1cm deep and heat on a high heat until it reached 180C, or a breadcrumb dropped into the oil sizzles and turns golden almost immediately. Set aside a large plate (close to the pan) and line with a few sheets of kitchen paper.
9. When the biscuits are cooked, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Turn down the oven to its lowest setting.
10. Place the chicken pieces into the oil so each piece is in full contact with the bottom of the pan (you will need to do this in batches). Immediately turn the heat down to the lowest setting, pop the lid on and cook for 407 minutes. Using kitchen tongs, turn the chicken over, pop the lid back on and cook for 4-7 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the heat right up and fry the chicken until golden-brown, turning frequently. Cut into the deepest piece of chicken to ensure that the juices run clear and that it is cooked through.
11. As each batch of chicken is cooked, place it on to the kitchen-paper-lined plate to remove the excess oil, then place in a roasting tin, cover with foil and put in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remained chicken pieces in the same way.
12. To make the milk gravy, in a small pan, on a low heat, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour to make a smooth roux. Gradually whisk in the milk and chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes, whisking continuously, until thick and gravy-like. Season to taste and decant into a gravy boat.
13. Transfer the chicken pieces and the biscuits onto a large serving plate and serve immediately with a boat of gravy.
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