The secret to the juiciest chicken you’ll ever taste is to brine (that’s not a posh way of saying ‘brown’ by the way!) Immersing the meat in a bath of herbs and spices, or rubbing it with a combo of salts, tenderises the flesh and also plumps it up. The results are sumptuously succulent. Finger lickin’ frickin’ fantastic.
And this here, right now, on the very page you’re looking at, is one of the tastiest fried chicken dishes you’ll ever, er, taste.
This Sri Lankan Fried Chicken recipe – with a coconut sauce – comes courtesy of this month’s BBC Good Food magazine and although it involves a little effort, the results pay the kind of dividends only corrupt bankers get to receive.
FOR THE BRINE
250ml/9fl oz coconut milk
1 garlic clove, crushed
pinch of ground ginger
2 cardamom pods, crushed
pinch of white pepper
500g skinless chicken breasts
FOR THE FRIED CHICKEN COATING
1 litre sunflower or
75g chickpea flour (gram flour)
100g quick-cook polenta
25g desiccated coconut
pinch each of smoked paprika and
FOR THE SPINACH, COCONUT & ONION GRAVY
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 small green chilli, halved
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground fenugreek seeds
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp cane or light brown sugar
400ml full-fat coconut milk
125g bag baby leaf spinach, chopped
juice 1 lime
1 To prepare the chicken, tip the coconut milk into a jug and stir in the garlic, spices and 1 tsp salt. Put the chicken in a plastic container or roasting tin and pour over the brine mix to cover. Cover with cling film and chill for 24 hrs.
3 To make the sauce, put all the ingredients (except the coconut milk, lime juice and spinach) in a heavy-based saucepan. Add 1 tbsp water and simmer over a low heat for 5 mins or until the onion softens. Pour in the coconut milk and cook for a further 1-2 mins (do not boil). Tip in the spinach, stir until wilted, then remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and add the lime juice.
5 To cook the chicken, heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or saucepan until it reaches 180C on a cooking thermometer.
To make the fried chicken coating, combine all the ingredients with ¼ tsp salt In a bowl. Piece by piece, remove the chicken from its brine, allow the excess to drip off, then dredge it in the coating. Shake off the excess and fry in the oil for 6-8 mins until cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve the chicken with the coconut sauce.