The title of this post should really read a guaranteed sure fire way to win undying favour and gratitude from a horde of hungry teenagers. It should come as no surprise that the way to their heart is through their ravenous stomachs, this time with golden platters of finger licking good oven fried buttermilk chicken drumsticks. Usually when we’re craving fried chicken I take the Japanese route and reward my family with crunchy tender morsels of karaage chicken marinated in soy, garlic and ginger, and dredged in cornflour before being shallow fried to golden perfection.
Today, however, I rose to the challenge and attempted a somewhat healthier version of the offerings of a very popular, well known fried chicken chain, favoured by my son. I’ll admit I did not use anywhere near 11 secret herbs and spices, choosing to marinate my chicken drumsticks overnight in a simple garlic, sea salt and white pepper infused buttermilk, and seasoning my flour with just two spices; sweet paprika and cayenne pepper. Of course you can play around to your heart’s desire with any combination of seasonings for both the buttermilk marinade and flour. There are no hard and fast rules; half the fun is in the experimentation.
This is one of those recipes that is ridiculously easy to prepare but needs to be started the day before so that the buttermilk has the opportunity to weave its magic and tenderise the drumsticks. My preference is for a crisp light coating so I quickly dredge my drumsticks in the flour just once. Preferences for a thicker crust? Double dip into the buttermilk and flour after the initial dredging. It’s actually a really good way to use up every last skerrick of the buttermilk marinade so I do double dip and dredge my very last batch of drumsticks. Much to the delight of the lucky eagle eyed teenagers who manage to score them.
I will confess I’ve never been a fan of the deep fryer. There’s always an unholy mess created in my kitchen from hot oil spatters, not to mention the additional headache of making sure that a large volume of leftover oil is disposed of in an eco-friendly manner. Hence when a recipe calls for deep frying I usually opt for a quick shallow pan fry instead to give my food a gloriously golden burnished glow before transferring to a tray for a final cook through in the oven.
For just a little effort, we achieved finger licking good fried chicken nirvana. Satisfyingly crisp and crunchy on the outside but deliciously moist and flavoursome on the inside. So much so, the requests have already been coming in for an encore performance this weekend.
Oven Fried Buttermilk Chicken Drumsticks
Recipe suitable to double or quadruple
12 chicken drumsticks
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
75g butter, for frying
1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying
WHISK together buttermilk, garlic, white pepper and salt.
SLASH each chicken drumstick two or three times through the skin and flesh to allow the marinade to permeate.
PLACE drumsticks into a large shallow baking dish. Pour over the buttermilk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least eight hours or overnight.
PREHEAT oven to 200 C and arrange a rack over a baking paper or foil lined oven tray.
COMBINE flour, cayenne pepper and paprika in a large bowl.
HEAT oil and butter in a large wok over medium high heat.
WORKING in batches, remove chicken drumsticks from the marinade, three at a time, dredge with seasoned flour and fry until lightly golden all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a kitchen paper lined plate and keep warm whilst frying the remaining drumsticks
WHEN all twelve drumsticks have been fried, place them onto the prepared baking rack. Bake for 30 minutes until nicely browned and cooked through, turning once after 20 minutes.
SERVE with a side of coleslaw. Recipes here and here.