Chicken and bis­cuits

The Observer Food Monthly - - 20 BEST BRUNCH RECIPES - Michael Zee

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

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