Picnic Ideas and Recipes: Herb Fried Chicken

What better way to celebrate summer than to pack a basket with goodies straight from the garden and head for the nearest beach, meadow or hillside?
June/July 2006

Serves 4 to 6

Of all the fried chicken recipes I’ve encountered — and I make a point of tasting fried chicken at any opportunity — I like this one best. The flavor-packed crust has plenty of texture (from the oats and herbs) and colorful specks of green.

• 2 cups flour
• ½ cup rolled oats
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 tablespoon salt
• Freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• ½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
• 6 to 8 sprigs fresh sage leaves
• 1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves
• 4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
• 5 to 6 sprigs fresh basil leaves
• 6 egg whites
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• ½ cup beer
• Canola oil for frying
• 1 whole frying chicken (cut up) or 2 to 3 pounds of tenders, drummettes or drumsticks (remove skin if desired)

1. In a food-processor bowl, combine flour, oats, garlic powder, salt, black and red pepper, and all herbs. Pulse just until ingredients are thoroughly mixed and herbs are in large, still-discernible chunks. (You want texture and color here.) Place this breading mix in a gallon-size freezer bag and shake.

2. Using a handheld or conventional blender, beat the egg whites, mustard and beer until frothy. Pour the egg-white mixture into a shallow baking pan.

3. In a frying pan, heat an inch of canola or other vegetable oil until hot.

4. Working piece by piece, dip the chicken in the frothy egg-white mixture, then place it in the plastic bag and shake until thoroughly coated with breading. For an extra-thick crust, repeat the procedure.

5. Fry each piece until golden brown on all sides and until juices run clear when pierced with a fork. This should take about 15 to 17 minutes for whole pieces of chicken or 10 minutes for chicken tenders.

6. Drain on several thicknesses of paper towels.

7. If you wish to make fried chicken the day before a picnic, drain it thoroughly on paper towels, then store it in the refrigerator on a clean layer of paper towels, covered only by a second layer of paper towels on top. This keeps it crispy, whereas covering the chicken with plastic wrap or foil makes it soggy.

Lynn Alley is a freelance food and wine writer living in San Diego, California. 

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