Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
The Perfect Fried Chicken
by SuSu, MaceVindaloo, Diana
Menu: Corran's Seasoning Salt | Booster's Fried Chicken Spice Shake | Perfect Fried Chicken | Perfect Fried Pork Cutlets | Cabbage and Shiso SaladThough it's expected that most fathers do not like their daughters' choice of mate, it still surprised some people to see the level of ire that Booster Terrik and Corran Horn publicly displayed toward each other. They would even go out of their respective ways to annoy the other, even if they did deep down feel a begrudging respect for one another. And they did love the people they had in common: Booster's daughter Mirax, and Corran's children Valin and Jysella.
Both men loved fried chicken, and both men enjoyed the love and admiration which flowed from their brood and crew when either made this dish. They each had prideful male attitudes about their secrets and methods, to the ridiculous extent that there were some odd rules and theories evolved for the preparation of the birds. Of course, each man claimed to make the definitive version. Though Booster's and Corran's preparations were similar, the details differed, and each man would poo-poo the other man's tastes and effort. Corran insisted that the birds had to be marinated in buttermilk for 24 hours in the chiller before contemplating the spices; Booster had plenty to say about what kind of substances Corran must've marinated in to come up with that one, though he did believe buttermilk was better than eggs to dip the chicken into before spicing.
Both men also agreed that the spices should be sprinkled onto the buttermilk-coated pieces before being coated in flour, but their combinations were different. Corran believed in a mix which had only three ingredients: salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Booster added paprika and chipotle pepper powder to that mix. One laid out the pieces of chicken and sprinkled each seasoning in intuitively guessed-at portions with his fingertips, one ingredient at a time. The other simply dumped and mixed all the ingredients of his "shake mix" from a jar.
One preferred to coat the birds in flour and then put it straight into the hot fat to cook; the other let the floured pieces sit for 5 minutes so that the flour could "hydrate" and form a thicker crust. As to the selection of fat, one preferred any sort of heated oil, while the other preferred to melt down hydrogenated solid vegetable shortening. Each stubbornly insisted their was was THE way!
But when it came down to it, their family and friends loved the chicken too, any way it was cooked. In a blind taste test, other than perceiving the hotness of any additional spices, most people couldn't tell the difference. Quite frankly, it was so good that people would simply concentrate on the blissful moment on the absolute rightness of the chicken not pick on what was wrong!
Mirax had to impose a rule: Booster and Corran were NOT to be in the kitchen together, and whoever got there first to make the fried chicken got to make the decisions. The other would have to keep his mouth shut and leave. This ensured that she had two men willing and eager to get into the kitchen to cook "his" perfect version, before the other could call dibs!
Then she'd call their friends, who'd dropped whatever they were doing, knowing the perfect fried chicken would be in their mouths soon ...
Menu: Corran's Seasoning Salt | Booster's Fried Chicken Spice Shake | Perfect Fried Chicken | Perfect Fried Pork Cutlets | Cabbage and Shiso Salad
Corran's Fried Chicken Seasoning Salt
Corran was normally kind of superstitious ... meaning if he'd done a series of things which resulted in things going well for him, he'd be a fool to tinker with chance. So, he never stepped directly on the threshold of a door, nor did he step on cracks in the sidewalk (his mother had died of a broken back and other complications from a speeder accident, you see). His superstitions extended, especially, to food, and he would sprinkle the ingredients on the chicken individually, rather than follow what he considered Booster's lazy, messy example ... but you can follow this procedure instead and save yourself some trouble. Unless you believe as Corran does, and besides, if someone didn't like one of the spices or had a health issue, he could cater to their needs more easily this way.
Alternatively, do as Corran does and lay out the chicken pieces on a large, flat surface. Pour portions of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder into separate bowls, then sprinkle with your fingertips onto the chicken successively to taste, then turn the pieces over and repeat. (You should use more salt than the other two ingredients.)
Booster's Fried Chicken Spice Shake
Booster felt that fuss and bother should only be reserved for those things which really require such an effort. In all his years of frying chicken, he'd never come across any proof that his pre-prepped "shake" was inferior to seasoning the chicken one spice at a time, and he told his son-in-law every chance he got. Another advantage of a "shake" is that it could be done in advance, and it ensures each piece of chicken is seasoned the same as others. As much as he loved his grandchildren, he did not believe in making a separately seasoned portion if they didn't like hot spices. How are they to learn what's good if you don't expose them to it ... repeatedly? "You'll be sorry you wwere soft on the kids, Corsec," Booster would admonish Corran.
Perfect Fried Chicken
You get to choose which "seasoning shake" to use here, and you can decide if you want to marinate your chicken for 24 hours, or simply use it as a dip. What's the difference? If your chicken is tough or gamey, the buttermilk will tenderize the meat and draw out the stronger flavors. But for younger supermarket chickens, the difference is often imperceptible. It probably will come down to whether you remembered to get the chicken pieces into the buttermilk the night before or not. But Corran would simply serve something else if he'd forgotten, but you feel free to curse at him for not making the chicken and go to Booster's instead!
Or, just dip the chicken into buttermilk to coat them thoroughly. Shake off excess buttermilk and lay the chicken out on a rack and sprinkle over with your choice of "seasoning sprinkle" be generous. Flip the pieces of chicken over and repeat the seasoning.
Dredge the seasoned chicken with flour. Shake off the excess and lay on the rack for 5 to 10 minutes to help air-dry and "set" the crust.
In the meantime, put ½-inch / 1¼-cm depth of oil in a skillet and heat over medium heat. The oil is ready when a bit of bread bubbles and browns when it's placed in the hot oil. The oil should not be smoking.
Carefully place the chicken pieces skin-side down in the skillet, arranging them around the pan so they don't touch. If you are using parts from a whole chicken, remember that the breasts will cook fastest and the thighs will cook slowest. Place the breasts on the cooler spots of the pan, and the thighs over the hotter areas. The oil will boil as you place the chicken in the hot oil, but will cool as you add more chicken. You want the oil to keep bubbling and not stop, so adjust the heat up or down as needed. (When you are frying, you have to pay attention.)
Leave the chicken alone while it cooks, and don't poke or fiddle with it. The uncooked side will go white as the flour dampens and eventually, some juices from inside the chicken will rise up through the meat. When that happens, use tongs and carefully turn the pieces over to brown the second side. The crust should be browned and firm. Again, adjust the heat up or down to keep the oil bubbling around the chicken, without burning the meat.
Remove the chicken to a wire rack to drain, skin-side up. (Do NOT use the same rack you had the raw chicken on! Never mix anything exposed to raw chicken with cooked chicken.) Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Yields about 6 to 12 servings, depending on how many pieces you have and their size.
Perfect Fried Pork Cutlets
Despite her rules, if Mirax's father and husband both got caught in the kitchen at the same time, rather than let them duke it out, she would throw them out and cook up some pork chops instead of chicken. That way, they couldn't complain how THEIR chicken would have been better, since it wasn't chicken but it was mighty good cooked as if it was chicken ... and both Booster and Corran better have the good grace not to complain!
This recipe is identical to the Perfect Fried Chicken recipe, but replace the chicken with pork loin steaks or chops, bone either in or out. Most pork is quite mild-flavored, so skip the 24 hour soak in buttermilk. But do use the buttermilk on the meat before shaking on the seasoning.
Simple Cabbage and Shiso Salad
This is a recipe which is easy to execute, once one learned how to slice. In fact, with a mandoline or v-slicer used with a hand-guard, Jysella can slice up the cabbage. Valin can chiffonade the shiso leaves with a smaller-sized sharp knife. The two sets of leaves are tossed together and served as is, or perhaps with a dressing. Actually, the undressed salad is very refreshing with fried food. Add some cherry tomatoes for extra flavor and color, if you wish. The kids felt involved in this fried chicken feast, and enjoyed telling Corran and Booster to eat their vegetables!
Stack the shiso leaves, then roll them up tightly laterally, like you're rolling a cigar. Using a sharp knife, slice the roll thinly. This is called chiffonade, which means "shreds." Fluff them up with your fingertips lightly, to separate the strands.
Toss the cabbage and shiso together. Chill in a closed container till you want it.
Makes enough to serve 12. The undressed salad can be covered and kept in the refrigerator for about a week.
Optional: You can toss just before serving with your favorite dressing. We like creamy vidalia onion dressing. But really, try it without any dressing first.
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