Photo by Josh Shaub
This chicken is dedicated to the food I grew up with: I combined the all-American experience (fried chicken) with the influences of Mexican culture, which was a huge part of my upbringing. The inspiration grew from one time when I was cooking at an Adidas party with my friend Miguel Mendez, a singer/songwriter. Miguel taught me this cool brining technique, which he learned from his grandmother, and I used the technique to create what I call La Raza Fried Chicken. This blend of torn corn tortillas and rich Mexican and Cajun spices melds together to create a unique Creole-style Cinco de Mayo for your mouth. - DFC
LA RAZA FRIED CHICKEN
SERVES: 6 to 8, or 10 tapas style
PREP AND COOKING TIME: 45 minutes, plus overnight brining
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: candy thermometer
4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breast
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 gallon high-heat-point oil, such as peanut, canola, or safflower
3 cups brewed black tea
1 tsp. salt
4 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
Rind of 1 large orange
A pinch of Spanish paprika
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, quartered
2 cups buttermilk
3 chipotle peppers, plus 2 tsps. adobo sauce
2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs
3 tortillas (red, yellow, blue, green, or plain. I like to mix the colors.)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white cornmeal
2 tsps. tapioca powder
2 tbsps. garlic powder
2 tbsps. onion powder
4 tsps. Spanish paprika
2 tsps. cumin
2 tsps. celery seed
A pinch of white pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 to 3 tsps. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sesame seeds
6 sprigs fresh cilantro or parsley
1. Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 3 equal pieces, then cut each piece crosswise for a total of 24 pieces. Halve chicken thighs for a total of 8 pieces.
2. Combine all brine ingredients except the buttermilk in a large stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil for 1 minute, and remove from heat. Transfer to a large bowl and cool completely. Stir in the buttermilk.
3. Submerge the chicken pieces in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Remove chicken from brine. Rinse and pat dry.
4. In a blender, purée the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, eggs, and wet-batter buttermilk. Scrape into a small bowl.
5. In a food processor, finely chop the tortillas.
6. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, tapioca, garlic and onion powders, paprika, cumin, celery seed, white pepper, oregano, salt, and pepper. Transfer half of the mixture to a second bowl.
7. Add the tortilla crumbs, sesame seeds, and chopped cilantro to the second bowl.
8. Set up a dipping and breading station that includes the chicken, both coating bowls, wet batter, and a tray with a wire rack set in it.
9. Dip each chicken piece into the plain coating, pat off the excess, then dunk each piece into the wet batter. Follow that up with a dive into the tortilla coating.
10. Place the breaded chicken pieces on the rack and let them set (outside of the fridge) for 25 to 45 minutes.
11. Pour 4 to 5 cups of oil into large heavy bottom pot or 12-inch skillet. Place a crushed garlic clove (skin still on) and some onion scraps in the oil. Bring the oil to 320˚F. Use a candy thermometer to confirm the oil temperature.
12. Once oil is heated, fish out the garlic and onion with a slotted spoon and discard. Carefully lower a few chicken pieces into the oil. The oil temperature will decrease, so adjust heat as necessary to bring oil back to proper temperature.
13. Fry pieces for 8 to 13 minutes, turning halfway, until deep golden brown. Use the thermometer to check for doneness. Internal temperature should be 165˚F.
14. Using tongs, carefully remove the chicken pieces from the oil, and place them on a tray lined with paper towels, a cooling rack, or newspaper. Let the chicken cool a bit before serving.
P.S. I love this dish with some fresh chili paste*
* FRESH CHILI PASTE
12 dried red chili peppers
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsps. olive oil
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground caraway seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1. Soak the dried chilies in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain chilies and remove stems and seeds.
2. In a food processor, combine the soaked chilies, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Add the coriander, caraway, and cumin, and blend to a smooth paste.
RIDE OR FRY
by Dante Fried Chicken