Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuits With Black Pepper Sage Honey Butter Sauce



Thighs is about a pound – a perfect portion size for two. I rinse these in cold water, then pat them nice and dry with paper towels.
These go into a ziplock bag into which I’ve dumped a healthy serving of cayenne (I’d say about 6 tablespoons – at least), 3 tablespoons of paprika, and 3 cups of my buttermilk. Dave’s recipe calls for them to marinate for 8 hours at least, but I wanted this NOW – so I marinated it for about 2, setting this up right when I got home, before sitting down for a beer and a decompress before really launching into the cooking.
After my decompress, it’s time to start my biscuits. My butter has been sitting in the freezer for the last 15 minutes or so, and I’ve now cut it into small cold cubes.
I add these wonderful bits of fluffy semi-frozen fat to the dry ingredients for my biscuits, which I’ve mixed up all in a large bowl. Using a couple of knives, I cut the butter into the powders until it looks nice and mealy.
In goes my buttermilk. I start with 3/4 of cup, mix it well, and when I see it’s too dry I add more until it’s fully damp — just this side of wet.
I spill this out onto a floured surface, and pat it into a rough round shape…
Which I cut into rounds, then set, sides lightly touching, on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. This goes onto the middle shelf of my preheated 425° oven to bake for about 15 minutes – so I put it in right when I start to fry my chicken.
To do that, I start by adding about 6 cups of vegetable oil to my deepest pan, and I set the heat to high. I love the heat ripples that form in frying oil.
Oh — and I get my sauce ready, too. Simple simple: two tablespoons of butter, a cup of honey, a tablespoon of black pepper, and some leaves of sage. I set this over medium heat to melt together, and to ever so lightly frycrisp the mint leaves.
Back to the chicken: I throw about a cup of flour, some cayenne, paprika, black pepper, and garlic powder (about a teaspoon of each) into a large bowl, which I mix well. This will be the crisp on my bird bits.
The buttermilk — flecked with flavor coats my chicken, and it’s ready to be floured.
And flour it I do. Each piece goes into my albino meal; each piece gets mercilessly tossed to and fro, all its hanging bits lifted and dusted, all its wetness powdered to dry.
This is usually my deep pasta pot, but I wondered recently why I wasn’t deep frying in it, too. I usually use my wok, but that means I have to fry in small batches – batches too small even for two full portions, meaning one of us always ate a completely cold meal, or half of each our meals was colder than the other half – but this pan allowed me to drop all my chicken at once. I do so carefully, though, using my large mesh paddle.
This will fry for about 12 minutes. My chicken browned too much, and came out unnaturally dark, like George Hamilton, and not wholesome and golden, like a sun-kissed Kate Hudson. Next time I’ll lower the heat a bit and fry the chicken longer — that’ll get me to the right shade of tan.
Still, when it floats — popping back up to the surface even after being pushed back into the deep — that’s usually a good sign it’s ready.
The biscuits come out of the oven, and they are beautiful. I split four of them with a fork, and lay them open on the plates to receive their offerings of fowl flesh and beehive drippings.
Light, fluffy, steaming hot biscuits topped with juicy, crispy fried chicken thighs, and bathed in a black pepper and sage scented honey butter sauce. The sweetness and the savor – the crunch and the sop – the bready and the sticky: my plate is a palate of beautifully balanced sensations, all blending together on the tongue, all tantalizing the tummy with the taste of chicken and honey. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner – someone stop me before I do…




Friday, June 3, 2011 - 7:04am


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