Pickled and fried chicken are a natural pairing, but they usually arrive on the side, after the chicken is cooked – not as a key ingredient in their preparation. I had heard of pickle-brined chicken, but the first time I actually tasted it was a few years ago at the transcendent Rose’s Luxury on Washington DC’s Barracks Row. The salty, herbaceous flavor of pickle brine permeates the meat, while the acid helps to break down tough muscle fiber for exceptionally tender chicken.
With a well seasoned breading, the end result is reminiscent of the chicken “nuggets” at a highway side southern chicken chain I won’t name.
This recipe is fairly simple, but the result will vary depending on the pickle brine you use. Brine from grocery store shelf-stable pickles will work fine, but the brine from good quality fermented dills – or those you find in the cooler section -will yield the best flavor.
For frying, I use this T-Fal fryer (which I got as a prime day deal several years ago.) A dedicated deep fryer with oil filtering is a great way to make perfect fried foods with a lot less hassle than setting up a cast iron dutch oven. You can check it out on the site’s equipment page, along with other recommendations that might [wink, wink] great holiday presents for people who like to cook.
Pickle Brined Chicken BitesCourse: Main, SnacksCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium
Tender, pickle brined chicken morsels reminiscent of a certain big chain, only better.
- Pickle Brined Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
1 cup AP flour
¼ cup corn starch
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup pickle brine
½ cup Greek yogurt
- Simple Ranch Dressing
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, loose
1 tsp fresh dill fronds, loose
½ tsp microplaned or minced garlic
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup buttermilk or yogurt
1 tsp white vinegar
- For the chicken
- Whisk together ½ cup of pickle brine and ½ cup of Greek yogurt until smooth.
- Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and combine with the brine mixture in a non-reactive bowl.
- Cover and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
- Combine the cornstarch, baking powder, flour, paprika, garlic powder, and salt in a large container with a tightly-fitting lid.
- Working in batches, place several pieces of chicken in the container and shake to coat well.
- After all of the chicken is breaded, place it on a rack, a plate, or a sheet pan and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (and up to several hours) for the flour breading to fully hydrate.
- Fry at 350° for 5-8 minutes (or until well browned).
- Remove and allow to drain and cool. The chicken can be held in the refrigerator at this point until it is ready to serve.
- To finish, fry a second time at 375° until the chicken is crisp and heated through.
- Serve with pickles, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, honey mustard, or whatever dips or accompaniments you prefer with chicken nuggets.
- Ranch Dressing
- Whisk all ingredients together, and chill 1 hour in the refrigerator to set and allow the flavors to meld.