Chicken and biscuits
I’ve asked a lot of people the same question: “What one food could you not face eating first thing in the morning?”
The top three, surprisingly, are chilli, chocolate and chicken (not all together, of course). For me, the best way to approach chicken first thing in the morning is to deep fry it.
My favourite is Southern style. No gimmicky cornflake or Rice Krispie coating in sight, but I’ve decided to
deviate from tradition and soak my chicken in yogurt rather than buttermilk, purely because buttermilk can be a pain to get hold of.
I also use Aromat in this recipe. It’s a great all-round seasoning mix, but some flavour purists might call it cheating as it contains MSG. Good thing this isn’t the Olympics. Feel free to leave it out, but I am firmly leaving it in.
American-style biscuits require the most delicate hand. Barely touching the dough gives you a light, moist crumb. Again, you could substitute yogurt for the buttermilk, but these are really worth the effort so go for the buttermilk if you can.
SERVES 2 FATTIES, 4 THINNIES For the fried chicken chicken 8 pieces with skin on (I like a mix of thigh and leg) plain yogurt 500g plain flour 350g rice flour or cornflour 50g salt 3 tsp mixed spice 1 tsp sweet paprika 1 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp hot chilli powder 1 tsp ground black pepper 1 tsp Knorr Aromat 1 tsp oil 2 litres, for frying
For the buttermilk biscuits plain flour 300g baking powder 2 tsp salt 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp cold butter 7 tbsp (roughly 100g) buttermilk 185ml, plus 2 tbsp for brushing
In a large bowl, place the chicken and 450g of the yogurt and mix so that every piece is well covered. Leave covered (purely for hygiene reasons) in the fridge, ideally overnight but for at least 1 hour.
Mix all the dry ingredients in another bowl and add the remaining 50g yogurt. It should be a very dry coating with large, shaggy clumps. Shaggy clumps means crunch.
Heat your oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. You want it nice and hot. Preheat your oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
Take one yogurt-drenched piece of chicken at a time and dump it into the flour mix. I suggest you even press the flour into each piece for maximum effect.
Fry the chicken in batches in the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan, so do 2-3 pieces at a time for about 10 minutes, then remove and drain on kitchen paper. Once your last batch is done, transfer the chicken to a roasting tray, put in the oven and continue cooking for another 10-12 minutes to make sure each piece is fully cooked.
To make the biscuits, put all your dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cut the butter into cubes and, using your fingers and thumbs, massage the lot together until you have a loose crumb.
Add the buttermilk and, with a gentle hand, mix until you have a dough. Don’t knead it at all, and stop once it’s combined. Preheat your oven to 200C/gas mark 6, and prepare a tray with some baking parchment.
Dust a clean work surface with flour and tip out the dough. Roll it into a circle about 2.5cm thick. If you are using a cookie cutter, then dip it in some flour first and again after each cut. You could also cut it like a pizza into 8 wedges, giving you zero waste.
Put the biscuits on the prepared tray, brush the top of each one with buttermilk (careful none goes down the sides) and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for a minute, then serve with the fried chicken.
From Symmetry Breakfast: Cook Love Share by Michael Zee (Bantam Press, £14.99)
15 POTATO PANCAKES WITH HERB AND YOGURT SAUCE Small, waxy potatoes fry well, crisping up in hot butter and oil