Jun 6, 2014

Latin Fried Chicken

You have heard of Southern-Fried Chicken, but have you tried Latin-Fried Chicken?
Whenever “Latin” is mentioned today everyone thinks Hispanic; but that is not so. Italian and Spanish languages are Latin-based and originated, thus Latin could be Spanish or Italian or Mexican or South American or Puerto Rican.
In the past decade in the United States Latin-American restaurants have taken their cuisine from the old country where fried chicken is as popular as it is in the southern US as well as western states like Texas. Southern-Fried Chicken migrated with settlers and drifters moving westward after the devastation of the South after the American Civil War.
So, examining recipes, like Diane Unger at Cook's Country did, I found her recipe to be great, but I personalized it.
In the past, most of my chicken recipes were diced chicken or chicken breasts cooked in several ways, and if I wanted coated crispy chicken I either went to KFC or the local grocery store whose deli department cooks chicken like that daily for folks on the run and want something for lunch or a quick dinner. The local grocery store also has delicious roasted whole chicken with a great tasting BBQ coating for flavor.
Marinating meats has been around for awhile, it soaks in the flavor as well as prevents certain meats from drying out, like chicken or snake/reptile meat. Yes, I said snake meat, which has the texture and flavor of chicken breasts and thighs. I go the taste for it, although these days I no longer cook snake meat – not many snakes on the Peninsula here – while serving in the US Army. It was something different than eating “C” rations and later MRE rations. I have still yet to taste Gator meat, just did not have the opportunity – I am sure alligators are harder to handle than snakes and other reptiles.
So here is the recipe …
2 tablespoons sea salt
6 garlic cloves, chopped coarse
1 tablespoons (or teaspoon, depending upon taste) ground cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons smoked paprika or regular paprika
2 teaspoons oregano, dried
2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1/4-cup lime juice (2 limes) [NOTE: You can substitute lime for lemon if you prefer, I usually use lemon on chicken and fish anyway)
3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half crosswise, drumsticks, thighs, and/or wings), trimmed

1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated or powdered garlic
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 quarts of cooking oil, peanut oil best
  1. For the Marinade: Combine salt, garlic, pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, and lime/lemon zest and juice in bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but not longer than 2 hours. An alternate would be using storage containers made specifically for marinating instead of the plastic wrap covered bowl. Just make sure the meat is covered with marination ingredients.
  2. For the Coating: Whisk flour, cornstarch, black pepper, granulated/powdered garlic, baking powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne together in bowl. Place egg whites in shallow dish.
  3. Set wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Remove chicken from marinade and scrape off solids. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working with one piece at a time, dip chicken into egg whites to thoroughly coat, letting excess drip back into dish. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer chicken to prepared wire rack and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, 1 hour preferred, but no longer than 2 hours.
  4. Add oil to large Dutch oven (or electric cooker) until it measures at least 2 inches deep and heat over medium-high until oil is 325 degrees. Add half of chicken to hot oil and fry until breasts register 160 degrees and drumsticks/thighs register 175 degrees, 13 to 16 minutes.
    Transfer chicken to clean wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Return oil to 325 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken. Serve.
I found a video on YouTube to share featuring Diane Unger, the chicken-expert lady ...
Now, with all this writing about food, heading to the kitchen.

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