This recipe is a crowd pleaser!
What name do you prefer?
Or maybe chicken fingers?
Strips or fillets? No matter how you call them, this recipe will be one of your favorites! These little pieces of chicken breast get very tender and juicy due to a simple combination of brining and marinating. Then, they get fried not once, but twice, for that extra crispy, extra crunchy effect! Can you think of something more mouthwatering?
I know this is a mediterranean diet oriented food blog, so you may wonder what a recipe for fried chicken is doing here. Well, except from the fact that it’s chicken (!) I also have to bring to your attention that in Cretan cuisine – which is the basis of the mediterranean diet – frying is a common way of cooking. Yes, in Crete there are lots of recipes using frying as a cooking method, since this is a quick way to prepare food and gives extra flavorful results (I’m not going to talk again about the maillard reaction, I’ve done it in my healhty chicken sandwich post).
Almost every family in Crete has an olive grove, so olive oil is used in everything; from salads and cakes to baking and frying. Since olive oil can be pretty expensive for someone who hasn’t direct access to it, I would suggest using a vegetable oil with a high smoking point.
Why does this chicken get so juicy?
The answer is the combination of a brining method (I use this method in my bacon wrapped turkey roll) with a basic buttermilk marinade. That way you get the best from both worlds: the acidity of the marinade tenderizes the tissue of the meat, while the brine fills it with moisture making it plump and extra juicy.
And why is it so crispy?
It’s twice fried! Seriously guys, if you want that extra crispiness in every fried food you make – including french fries – the secret is to fry it until almost done, let it drain and cool on a rack and then fry it once more until golden and beautiful!
The chicken shouldn’t be cold when frying, because it will lower the temperature of the oil
The spice mix I use is my personal preference, but you can certainly make your own combinations!
After frying the chicken for the first time, you can store it in the fridge and re-fry it another day when you don’t have much time. So, prepare it on the weekend and eat it during the week!
Don’t salt the chicken! It already has absorbed the required salt from the marinade!
- For the salty marinade:
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with 2 tablespoons vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon fine salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- For the chicken:
- 1 pound boneless chicken breast (cut in approximately 1.5-2 inch pieces)
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons dried onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- 2 eggs beaten
- A pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
- Vegetable oil for frying
Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, add the chicken, mix to coat well and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or even overnight.
Place the flour, onion powder, paprika, cumin and cayenne (if used) in a zip log bag and shake a little to mix.
Take chicken out of the marinade, place in the bag, seal and shake well until all the pieces are fully coated.
Place the crumbs in a big plate.
Place the eggs in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat them well.
Dip each chicken piece in the eggs, coat with breadcrumbs and place on plate.
Let them rest for 5-10 minutes.
In the meantime, fill a deep pan with oil, about 2 inches high. The amount of the oil will depend on the size of your pan.
When the oil is hot, fry the chicken pieces taking care not to over crowd them inside the pan.
When the chicken bites are almost done and just begin to brown, remove them with a slotted spatula and let them cool on a rack, about half an hour. (At this point you can store them in the fridge for up to 2-3 days or freeze them for up to two months).
Fry the chicken bites for the second time until golden brown (bring them to room temperature first, if refrigerated or frozen).
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