27 May 2013

Pistachio Crumbed Chicken

The last 2 weeks have been busy with proof reading and exhibition organisation at work and international visitors at home, with no time to cook let alone blog. It's been very frustrating having lots of ideas and ingredients and no time to spare to cook so finally this weekend I caught up on some much needed sleep, washing and cooking and now my freezer is full of yummy things to eat for lunch and dinner for the coming week and I actually have clean clothes to wear. A couple of weeks ago was the farmers market and there was a great little stand selling pistachios - fresh, dry roasted, and roasted and salted. I bought bags of each and have been leaving great piles of pistachio shells in my wake ever since. (Don't add your dry roasted or fresh shells to the ever increasing landfill, instead add them to compost or mulch, they take around a year to start to break down and help stop the soil compacting).

I love fried chicken, proper fried chicken, not the fast food, lukewarm, oozing oil stuff (although yes, truth be told, if I stop at a service station while driving in country Australia I will probably succumb to the sorry looking chicken wingdings gleaming with oil under the fluorescent light of the pie warmer... those or a cheesy sausage... like a moth to a flame... don't judge me till you've been there, it's a rite of passage.) Anyway, real fried chicken, bathed in buttermilk until the chicken is melt in your mouth moist, the crunchy seasoned coating cracking as you bite it with no oily residue around your mouth... that sort of fried chicken I absolutely cannot resist. Belle's Diner on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy does a superb Southern Fried Chicken served with a beautiful fresh slaw with beetroot and coriander (definitely go the chicken over the burgers and make sure you order the seasoned fries as well)!
I wanted to add a nutty crumb to my fried chicken and pistachio worked perfectly, these are super crunchy with the panko and full of flavour, the chicken is moist and melt in the mouth and they even tasted good cold from the fridge. If the oil is the right temperature when you put them in they don't absorb much oil at all, after you drain them on a paper towel, they bare no relation what so ever to greasy fast food fried chicken. You can reuse the oil for more savory cooking - let it cool then strain it twice through some muslin cloth to remove any bits of crumb. Pour into a clean bottle and place in the fridge, it can be reused for up to one week. 

Ingredients (serves 4):

12-15 chicken tenderloins
150 - 200 ml buttermilk*
80 grams pistachio kernels
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
cracked pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups vegetable oil

*if you don't have buttermilk just use regular milk with the juice of half a lemon, combine and let them sit for 5 minutes then use as you would buttermilk

To serve:
flaked salt
lemon wedges
kewpie mayonnaise


Marinate the tenderloins in buttermilk for 3 hours to overnight in the fridge. Toast the pistachios under the grill for a couple of minutes, shaking every 30 seconds until just golden and toasted. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool rub together to remove most of the papery skins. Place in a food processor and pulse until roughly crumbed (you want some texture so don't turn them to dust. Combine in a medium bowl with the panko bread crumbs and set aside.

Sift together plain flour, baking powder, salt and paprika in a bowl, season with cracked pepper and set aside. In another bowl combine milk and egg, whisking together. 

Set up a wire rack over a baking tray or well balanced over the sink.

Drain the chicken and dredge in the flour mixture to thoroughly coat. Lay out on the wire rack. Add any flour mix left over to the milk/egg mix and whisk together to form a smooth runny batter. Dip the chicken strips quickly into this batter then place onto the wire rack for any excess to drain off. Repeat with all remaining pieces of chicken.

Place the 2 cups of oil in a medium, deep saucepan on a medium flame and heat until approximately 180 C or the oil is just shimmering and a cube of bread bubbles when placed in and goes golden within a minute. Be very careful around the hot oil and it can spit and burn badly, wear oven gloves to protect your hands.

Dip the batter coated chicken into the pistachio/panko mix and press well to completely cover, set out on the wire rack until the oil is ready. Once the oil is hot enough, fry in small batches (2 - 3 strips) for 1 + 1/2 minutes on one side, then turn over and continuing cooking on the other side until golden brown and the chicken is completely cooked. Always check the first chicken strip after cooking to make sure it is no longer pink inside and that your cooking length is long enough and that the oil is hot enough, if in doubt pop it back in for another 30 seconds.

Drain on paper towel while you repeat the process with the rest of the strips. Serve hot, sprinkled with flaked salt with wedges of lemon and a good squeeze of kewpie mayonnaise.

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