Well, not so much the pickles, but the pickle juice. Most fried chicken recipes will tell you to marinate your raw chicken overnight in buttermilk to tenderize it.
They're wrong. What you really want to do is brine your chicken overnight in pickle juice. Now, I'm generally not a big fan of brining. I just don't really think it brings anything to the table. But using pickle juice is 1) super easy and 2) gives your fried chicken that subtle pickle flavor that a certain Southern fast food chicken chain has up their sleeve. You know the one I mean.
But really, just try it. You've probably already got the half-empty jar of pickles sitting in your fridge and what are the odds you have a quart of buttermilk? One without chunks.
So, once you've eaten all your pickles and brined your chicken overnight in the juice, drain it in a colander. Next, you're going to season it up. You can go simple with just salt and pepper, but I really like Alton Brown's spice rub because it's salty and spicy:
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Once it's good and seasoned, dredge each piece in flour and shake off the excess. Make sure your oil is nice and hot (about 350 degrees) and fry em' up. Now, I can't really speak to the frying process since it's not really my area of expertise (although check out Alton Brown's recipe on FoodNetwork.com for a great video tutorial). What I can say, is that it helps to have the REAL secret ingredient for perfect fried chicken: a sexy man to do the frying for you. Luckily, I brought my trusty boyfriend and co-chef along for the weekend, so I surrendered the frying pan and he took over.
I KNOW, I KNOW, here is where I should insert a picture of him manning the stove, but alas, I was delinquent in my photographing responsibilities. But give me a break ok, I mean, did you SEE the cake?
Now, once your chicken is hot and crispy, it's time to dress it up. Sure, you can eat it plain or dip it in ketchup, but here's what I suggest:
drizzle it with some of this
and add a few drops of this
What do you get? Sweet, spicy, salty, crunchy HEAVEN.
Of course, I can't take complete credit for this genius idea. I had my first taste of it here and actually tried this particular combination thanks to one of the chefs at work. And now, I'm addicted. Don't think I could eat fried chicken any other way. In a way, I'm sorry to do this to you.
But I think we've finally hit the jackpot with this one. Good thing too, since it's sort of becoming a July 4th tradition.