I remember the first time I bit into a piece of proper fried chicken… It was only a couple of years ago which probably helps, but I am sure it wouldn’t be different if it was many moons ago, and anyway it’s a great way to start a story. The KFC secret recipe has been leaked – time to see if the promise of home fried chicken is a reality.
Fried Chicken is the Bill Murray of food, both cool to like and actually liked by pretty much everyone. A melange of herbs and spices, juicy chicken and crispy batter create a supreme taste that would easily sell for huge sums if you were to literally paint Supreme on it. It has become a sort of icon of different cultures and features in more songs (my favourite being Junior Spesh) than probably any other food stuff to have grace my mouth and even featuring as the main character of a TV show on Channel 4 a few years ago. I don’t know what it is like in other parts of the world, but the various chains of chicken shops in London are held high as badges of honour to represent where you are from: Sam’s in the North and Morley’s in the south.
While Maccy D’s and Burger King rule as the most popular fast food palaces in the world, Fried Chicken is by far the tastiest and the one that is always available when you are most in need. The most convenient and omnipresent hunger reliever known to city dwellers, a sort of religious experience shared by any that find the holy grail of light and greasy smells that spew from the doors on nights after a voyage into clubs full of spangled and glittery dancers. As you finally emerge, sweaty and pink and a little mad, a bit like a horrible big slug with arms, you know your only saviour and hope of finding the night bus is fried chicken. No matter what time it is, whether you’ve been an absolute legend and made it to the end, or been kicked out for mistaking a bin for a urinal, a fried chicken shop will always be open serving up delicious hot wings and chips.
Originally created by the godfather of modern day cooking: the Colonel of Kentucky known to his mates as senor Sanders, it has spread its battered spicy wings across the globe and now makes up the trifecta of American fast food that is Pizza, Burgers and Chicken. While KFC might be the original and arguably the best, it is the small brand chicken shops that serve up chicken at all hours for the cheapest price. Some people might tell you that pieces are the best, but it can only ever be wings, the hotter the better.
Like the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar and the Illuminati, what makes fried chicken the best is the mystery and surrounding the recipe that makes it so good. The legend around the secret herbs and spices that make up the delicious batter that coats the chicken while they are fried. While Mr Sanders seemed to have taken this KFC secret recipe to his grave, a recent recipe for the one and only herb and spice blend has been leaked. If the rumours are true you can now make your own fried chicken without having to go through all the hassle of getting drunk, dancing and then getting home.
This all sounded to good to be true, so we had to do some research. The apparent leak seems to have come from a relative who just decided to let the world know how to make the spice mix, which he used to make as a young boy. The head honchos at KFC have denied this is the real KFC secret recipe, but the mix itself looks as if it should work.
Looking at the KFC secret recipe list, there is nothing too weird or outlandish, however, the amount of salt is humongous. There is half your daily allowance in just one piece of chicken. With this is mind we decided to reduce the salt levels a bit in our experiment, I mean surely having celery salt, garlic salt and normal salt would be enough, even if just less than we were meant to.
So with a drunken party as the perfect excuse to get some oil up to boiling temperature we decided to make what would hopefully be the ‘Lost City of Atlantis’ of homemade fast food. We have actually slightly pimped the recipe to hopefully make it even more delicious.
- 12 hours brining time, 4 hours marinating time.
- Deep fat fryer (or heavy bottomed cast iron pot)
- Enough Oil to fill the fryer or half of the iron pot
- Chicken Wings – cut into 2 pieces at the join (as many as you think you can eat without being sick). Or if you prefer pieces a whole chicken that has been quartered (then you get wings, legs and breast)
- Pickle liquid – as in the juice from a pickle jar (or vinegar, salt and water mix)
- 50 ml Buttermilk
- 1 tbsp celery salt
- 1 tbsp dried mustard
- 3 tbsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic salt
- 4 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- ½ tbsp basil
- ⅓ tbsp salt
- ½ tbsp thyme
- ⅓ tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 2 cups of flour
What to do:
The night before grab your chicken and place into a big bowl and pour the pickle juice all over. This will tenderise the chicken and will impart it with the amazing pickle flavour (this is optional, but I highly recommend this tip, which is stolen from a Matty Matheson recipe). Leave this in the fridge overnight. In the morning take the chicken out of the liquid and pour the liquid away. Now cover the chicken in the buttermilk and give it a good massage. Again, leave this for a few hours until you are ready to cook. This also helps tenderise the meat, keeping it super juicy and will also help the flour stick to the chicken.
While the chicken is sitting in the buttermilk, mix the 11 herbs and spices with the flour and another large bowl. Now begin to heat your oil. If you have a deep fat fryer check what temperature it recommends for chicken and get it to that. If you are using a pot, heat the oil on a medium heat. When you think it is hot enough sprinkle in a little flour and see if it begins to sizzle. Once it does you are at the right temperature.
If you are using wings they will take about 10 minutes to cook, the large pieces will be more like 20. When you place the chicken in, put it in really gently and do not overcrowd the pot, this will only increase the cooking time. When cooked take it out, and place onto a paper towel to remove and excess oil. Give it a good squeeze of lemon and you’re ready to roll. If you have a bucket lying around chuck it into that to give the authentic KFC experience.
The KFC secret recipe results were both excellent, but also slightly lacking. While the fried chicken tasted amazing it was closer to a local fried chicken place than KFC. There just seemed to be something missing from the recipe. Perhaps the monstrous quantity of salt was what was missing. Anyway if you want to make your own fried chicken at home this recipe is definitely one to try. There are simpler ones, but who wants simple when you’ve got guests to impress?