Friday, January 28, 2011

Honey-Brined, Southern-Fried Chicken Breasts – Boneless, Skinless, Low-Fat, and Delicious?

Is there anything less inspiring than a boneless-skinless chicken breast? There must be, but for the sake of this post, let's say there's not. So, how do we turn this culinary snoozer into something worthwhile? Fry it. Hey, that was easy.
Of course, the problem here is there's no flavorful skin on which to attach a crunchy coating. To add insult to injury, the fatty skin also protects the bland breast from drying out. Despite these obvious issues I decided to attempt Southern-fried boneless-skinless chicken breasts anyway.

As fate would have it, the same day I bought the chicken, Alton Br
own was doing a honey-brined pork shoulder on Good Eats. To combat the dreaded dry chicken I decided to use a simplified variation to soak my breasts.I won't bore you with all the scientific details, but through osmosis, brining raises the internal temperature at which the moisture is forced out of a protein. Even though I only brined my breasts for an hour, it worked like a charm. As you'll see in the recipe video, the meat was very juicy.As far as the skinless-coating went, I was also pleasantly surprised. Even though it was incredibly thin, it stayed on the meat throughout the frying, and the final result was nothing short of quite good.And yes, I am calling this low-fat (relative to regular Southern-fried chicken). When you eliminate the skin, you significantly reduce the calorie count, and even though we're cooking this is lots of oil, the coating is too thin to absorb very much of it.

If frying isn't your thing, still I encourage you to give this ultra-simple brine a try anyway. I think you will be impressed with its effect. I plan on using this on a regular basis this summer while rocking the grill. Enjoy!




Ingredients:
2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
3 cups cold water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
lots of cayenne
vegetable oil for frying


View the complete recipe

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

I cracked up when I read "...I decided to use a simplified variation to soak my breasts." I'm not a teenage boy but apparently I have the mental maturity of one.

Jason said...

A little Foodwishes trivia for us home-gamers!

Q: Where have I seen the small-object-in-back-in
focus-and-the-large-object-in-front-out-of-focus trick before?
A: The Pulled pork shoulder video!

Bonus points if you can name the sauce Chef John used as well as it's regionality.

Chef John said...

Damn, I can't play (no employees or relatives are eligible) ;-)

David said...

Do think it would be possible to skip the buttermilk bath and just brine the chicken breasts in the buttermilk (adding the salt and honey to the buttermilk)? Also I think the only thing that this is missing are some craggily bits that deep fried chicken has. Maybe those craggily bits could be made by adding a couple tablespoons of buttermilk to the flour and stirring it around, making some flakes of dough that would stick to the chicken and make craggily bits while frying. I know this would add some calories, but those craggily bits may just be worth it.

Livia said...

Ups, I started salivating here. I think it's time to make dinner...

That looks so delicious. It is torturous to watch you taste it, but I do appreciate that you actually eat some of it on screen, and show us the finished meal!

Locomotive_breath said...

Voluptuous. LOL.

Steven K. said...

Chef John,

I'd like to recommend using this brine with your awesome recipe for chicken fingers. It's probably the recipe I use most often from your website and I've found brining the fingers for one hour after cutting them up helps keep them from drying out at all while deep frying.

BTW, don't the instructions for brining usually tell you not to use a metal bowl? Or did I dream that?

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone on a food blog is using leftovers! A perfect application for your glaze!

Boneless, skinless breasts? Trying to save them should be more of a veterinary than a culinary procedure.

I'll bet that if you try this recipe with skin-on chicken you'll really have something. If you do, please include the dark meat. You could bone it if you want...in the old days they would use the scraps for stock!

Have you forsaken the pun for the double entendre? Your cleverness is appreciated, but remember that mixing them in the same meal can cause indigestion.

Jim

Anonymous said...

I wonder if using that great Foodwishes (equipment-free) sous vide technique to partially precook the breasts might make it easier to get a perfect crust on the breast, while ensuring that the chicken is adequately cooked through

Razors Edge said...

I appreciate that you can still admit your mistakes in front of so many eyeballs.

We all make them, even with years of experience, sometimes our plans dont do as expected.

And we all learn from our mistakes... in this case, all of your viewers did as well :)

truthspew said...

My SO does a great fried chicken. I'll have to try this though. And I HAVE to get a deep fryer.

Yes, yes, I know, I've been told I'll deep fry everything for the first month. But it's the one thing that's missing in this house.

Testosterone said...

Great post, love your writing style. Don't know how you went about getting that awesome crust.

sherrivan said...

yum

Anonymous said...

Looks tasty but every time I try to fry the coating flops off miserably. I don't know why--I rest it, I dry it before I begin the process but the coating always comes off. Sad panda.

Sweet Monkey Fritters said...

Insert Beavis-style laugh... "soak my breasts." LOL.

BrooklynHeart said...

Congratulations on the success. Those look delicious and I can't wait to try them! I've really not had fried food of any sort in a long, long while, your recipe looks like a great one to try for those special occasions when I want something fried.

As always, thank you!

Stew said...

This sounds incredibly awesome. I LOVE fried chicken. And I love breasts LOL. And no bones? WOW I am definitely trying this. Thanks very much Chef John!

wolf Jo said...

I tried this one today, had a good flavor but my chicken breast were just to thick so overdone outside and not quite done inside. Going to try this again. But am going to add a 1/4 teaspoon of cajun and a toss of red pepper. Just to give a bit more spice.

Gloria said...

My family loved this recipe. I was unfamiliar with using the brine bath before cooking the breasts and was pleased with the juicy results. I plan to try it with other cuts of meat.

Sy said...

Turned out great. My compliments to the chef. Thanks again.

Ahmetia Campbell said...

Suppose we wanted a thicker crust, how would we do it?

Chef John said...

leave the skin on!

Alina said...

I just love you Chef John. I really, really do. You have become part of my kitchen life.

denisious said...

We absolutely can not find kosher salt here in greece :( can I substitute any other kind of salt ? I got table salt, coarse grain table salt, himalaian pink rock salt and sea salt, I mean come on! one of those must be suitable, right?

Hope I get a reply to this burning question!

Chef John said...

the coarse table salt should work!

Zach said...

Hey!!

i just wanna say i found this website 3 hours ago and made myself this chicken and a brownie.. both the recipe found in this website and they taste great!!!

i am a beginner at cooking but ur recipe just made me taste the most delicious chicken i had before ( i am 17 years old btw)

and the brownie... haha!! gonna ask some question in that page..

and most of all THANK YOU!!!

Will said...

I have never been great with fried chicken...ever. It always turns out dry.

I tried this for a party. I included some bourbon bbq sauce too. It was so juicy. Everyone liked it! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

Rachael PDX said...

Yumm!

I made this last night (turned out great) but I felt like it needed a drizzling sauce. So, I made a lemon Dijon, honey mustard sauce, served on a bed of fragrant rice with a nice side of greens....(southern inspired y'all) and it was to die for.

Thanks Chef John!

Muizz M said...

Hey chef john,

What do you do with the leftover oil?

Kristina said...

Hey Chef John,

I really love this recipe because it's so simple, yet it seems like the chicken would have such an amazing flavor due to the brine; however, I was wondering do you think the recipe would work better if the chicken breast were pounded thin so you would not have to worry about burning the coating and cooking the chicken all the way? PS. I stumbled upon your videos by accident on youtube and I think they are great and very funny! Thanks!

Chef John said...

You could but not too thin or it could get dry. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Chef John love all your recipes. Would it be posssible to make your recipes printable, with directions and ingredients.

Chef John said...

Sure! Just as soon as you figure out who's going to do all that typing and formatting. ;)

Anonymous said...

I just made this and I was excited to use a brine but unfortunately my chicken came out AS SALTY AS ALL GET OUT :(

Seriously, a bite of the chicken is like straight up salt. I have no idea what went wrong and I am super dee duper disappointed since I'll probably have to dump three whole chicken breasts in the trash when my mom's not looking... I'm a college-aged beginner cook and I think I'm scarred from making fried chicken for life!

Chef John said...

Did you use kosher salt? I specified Kosher salt because it is much coarser than fine table salt, which may be why yours was too salty. I haven't heard any other complaints so if its not that, I have no idea! Did you measure right? Leave it in brine longer?

Victor said...

I wanted to ask about how to check the temperature of the oil since my fried stuff is never the same.
I just bought a 'meat' digital thermometer that claim to be good to 400 degrees. Can I stick it in the oil for a few seconds to check temp and adjust if needed?

Chef John said...

yes!

Elaine Livingston said...

I don't think I ever said OMG while eating chicken. Thank you, this was moist and delicious.

Christine said...

I made this last night and loved it. I didn't have quite enough honey (maybe 1/8 cup) but it didn't seem to matter. Even my son (who does not like chicken) loved it! I will definitely be making it again!

Anonymous said...

I believe the latest Anonymous poster with the unfortunate luck of having salty chicken made the same mistake I did when brining pork chops once:

There's a few types of buttermilk on the market, especially outside the South. I'm pretty sure one of them has salt. Check the ingredients list on your buttermilk! For a brine like this, if you can't find un-salted buttermilk, just fake it with milk + vinegar.

Anonymous said...

This recipe sounds great! I'm going to try this tonight. But, how long per side does the chicken need to cook for? You said something about 15 on the crust, but does the mean 15 minutes per side or 7.5 minutes per side? Your website is great. Thanks :)

Axel14222 said...

Chef,
Is there any reason why I should not deep fry this rather than pan fry?

Axel14222 said...

I've never mastered fried chicken, but this was pretty good. My pieces were about 12 ounces each, so, I cut them in half. After an hour in the brine, I rinsed them off and then dried them. I modified the seasoned flour by using slightly less table salt and adding a bit of Bell's poultry seasoning. Also, I deep fried the chicken rather than pan frying. The end result was quite good.....moist, tender,flavorful and pretty to look at. The finished product was only slightly more salty than I would have preferred. Not a big deal, I'll adjust accordingly next time. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's cold leftovers.
Chef,
Can you recommend a residential deep fryer? I use a heavy dutch oven and a candy thermometer, but the heat recovery time after adding cold food is terrible.

Chef John said...

glad you liked! sorry, don't have any fryer recs!

Bekah Parsons said...

This recipe is fantastic! I made this for my boyfriend once, and now he insists I make it at least once a month if not more. The best part is that I don't feel like I'm eating something soaked in grease. I also use your recipe for honey mustard sauce with this, although it doesn't need it. :)

Samuel M├╝ller said...

Chef John, thank you so much for this great recipe, i just made this and it was super awsome!

I have one Question. The preparation process before the frying is a bit time consuming and also requires a lot of dishes to wash later. I was wondering if I could like, prepare four, but only fry two, and put the other two into a tupperware and fry them a few days later (before expiration date of course). Or could there be a problem considering flavour or something like that?

Chef John said...

should be made fresh!

Gretchen inNOLA said...

two questions: what's the point of the honey in the brine? Didn't seem to affect the taste, that I could tell. Second, WHY can't you turn the chicken more than once? I'm still traumatized by my mother, and a couple of so-called friends, screaming "NO! You can only turn it once! It's probably ruined," which it never was. So I asked them why, and my mom, et al said, "Just cuz,you're not supposed to." Yeah, that cleared it up for me.

Chef John said...

Honey helps with the brining process, and absorption of moisture. Turning too much in a shallow pan can casue more grease to be absorbed and coating to fall off.

John Chester said...

I'm thinking about using a 'stove-top wok' as a deep fryer (Might help with coating loss).
As a heart patient, I'm also concerned with sodium content.
I understand that AllRecipes.com
posted the nutrition info, including ALL of the brining salt. (6,378mg!)
Is there a more accurate way to determine the sodium content?

Chef John said...

Sorry, not sure! Never checked that stuff before.