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Terrine's pickle-brined fried chicken

Terrine's pickle-brined fried chicken
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Done right, fried chicken is a beautiful thing. Unpretentious as this classic comfort food might be, there’s a definite art to it: a tender piece of meat, delicately seasoned and lightly dredged with a dusting of flour, then baptized in ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes, plus brining time | Serves 6 to 8

Brine

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (125 grams) kosher salt
  • ¼ cup plus 1 heaping teaspoon (62.5 grams) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 head garlic, split
  • 1 ounce fresh dill
  • 3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken

Step 1In a heavy pot, combine the water, salt, sugar, spice, garlic and dill and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Step 2Place the thighs in a non-reactive container. Pour the brine over the thighs, keeping the thighs submerged, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Pickle-brined fried chicken

  • About 1 ½ cups cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne powder, or to taste, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Wondra flour
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Brined chicken thighs
  • Canola or vegetable oil, for frying

Step 1In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (or to taste), and the water to form a slurry. Set aside.

Step 2In a separate large bowl, whisk together the remaining teaspoon cayenne, the paprika, Old Bay seasoning, pepper, flours and salt.

Step 3Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Dip a piece into the slurry. Shake the excess slurry off the piece and dredge in the flour to coat completely. Place the chicken on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Step 4When the chicken is almost ready, heat a deep-fryer or heavy pot filled at least 3 inches deep with oil to a temperature of 325 degrees.

Step 5Fry the chicken, 2 to 3 pieces at a time, until the skin is crisp and golden-brown, the meat is white and firm and a thermometer inserted reads 165 degrees, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain the chicken on a rack, and serve immediately.

Note: Adapted from a recipe by chef Kris Morningstar of Terrine restaurant in Los Angeles.

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