It was with a metal mug full of Pimento Beer Cheese, a freezer full of Ultra Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits, and a mason jar overflowing with Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch that I realized that I was missing an essential piece of the puzzle (or sandwich, as it was). I realized that I had no fried chicken for slathering with boozy cheese and stacking between golden, buttery baked goods. What’s more, I realized that I may be the last human in the culinarily-crazed blogosphere who had yet to publish a recipe for fried chicken. Yes, fried chicken! One of the food-world’s simple greats! Do you know how it feels to combine those serious cravings with that level of shame?
I had to
feed redeem myself. And that, my hosting and toasting friends, is how Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch Fried Chicken came to be.
Because I tend to stock up on (er, hoard) chicken parts whenever I sniff out a sale, I had boneless, skinless chicken thighs on hand. I didn’t have to choose between holding off on the idea or venturing out into the wilderness (er, grocery store), which is always wonderful news when you’re busy (er, flying through the last season of Shameless).
Thighs are the perfect size for snuggling into a sandwich, and what’s even better is they stay wonderfully juicy when fried. But to make sure I got the most moisture and flavor out of my chicken, I decided to brine it as well– and not in just any brine– in the juices from a jar of pickled jalapeños.
Jalapeño pickling juices are salty and acidic, which makes the chicken tender and flavorful. It also gives the chicken thighs a slight kick to them– not like the fire-mouth you’d get from, say, Nashville Hot Chicken, but enough heat to notice.
After brining the chicken thighs for a couple of hours (because truthfully, you don’t need any longer than that), I rinsed off the brine and dunked the thighs in the leftover Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch that I mentioned earlier. By the way, I should mention that I cannot get enough of that ranch, and this is coming from a gal who didn’t eat ranch for the first 23 years of her life. How far I’ve come, from turning ranch away to using it for everything from salad-topping to wing-dipping to coating fried chicken. Yup, I had a wild theory that if I used Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch instead of an egg wash to get the breading to stick, it’d add some herby, rich, and tangy flavors to my fried chicken.
I was right.
Just a dunk in the ranch, then into a simple flour mixture, and then into hot oil resulted in some of the tastiest fried chicken I’ve had in… well, maybe ever. Just look at those mouthwatering, crispy, crunchy chicken thighs and tell me that you don’t believe it. They were spicy, but the kind of spicy I could still serve to my mom without having a gallon of milk nearby to soothe her spice-sensitive taste buds. They were perfect.
Or perhaps I should say that they were nearly perfect. When I added biscuits and pimento beer cheese to the equation, THEN they were perfect. Alright, I’m drooling over here at the thought of these. I’ve got to wrap this post up.
Give this recipe a go, and then put it all together like I did (or don’t, they’re good on their own, I swear)! No matter how you serve your Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch Fried Chicken, just don’t forget to take a photo and tag it with #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter, pretty please! I want to see your crispy, crunchy, slightly spicy creations.
- 1 cup jalapeno pickling juice, plus pickled jalapeno slices to garnish
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 3 cups self-rising flour
- 1½ cups Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch
- 1 quart oil
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the jalapeno pickling juice, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper.
- Place the chicken thighs in a large, resealable plastic bag. Pour the pickling juice mixture over top and seal. Marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the bag of brine and pat it dry using paper towels. In a large bowl, add the self-rising and season generously with additional black pepper. Whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, pour in the Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the ranch into the flour mixture and mix into the flour to get some shaggy pieces of flour coating.
- Dip the chicken thighs in the ranch, turning to coat fully. Remove one thigh at a time from the ranch, letting the excess drip off. Press the chicken thigh into the flour mixture and turn, pressing until coated with a thick layer of flour. Set aside and repeat until all of the chicken thighs have been coated.
- Heat the oil in a deep cast iron skillet, wok, Dutch oven, or fryer to 350°F. Carefully fry the chicken pieces until browned all over and cooked through, flipping if necessary halfway, about 12 minutes. Set aside on a paper towel lined plate to cool.
- Serve with pickled jalapeno slices, to garnish.
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