America has a long-standing love affair with fried chicken, as a celebration dish, a fast food, and a comfort food, but its beginnings are a bit murky. First We Feast noted that the earliest fried chicken recipe predates the American Revolution by a couple of decades, and can be traced to a British cookery book by Hannah Glasse, which called for floured chicken to be fried in pork lard. It’s also thought that Scottish immigrants might have brought the dish with them when they settled in the Carolinas, but it was the African slaves who turned fried chicken into the dish we know today, by adding spices and seasoning to the mixture, according to Southern Fried Chicken Challenge. The Daily Meal revealed that, until World War II, fried chicken was a special occasion dish, reserved for when there was a holiday or something to celebrate.
“This is a staple in our house for football Sunday… really any day though, but mostly football Sunday.” Buttermilk has been used as a fried chicken brine for as long as we’ve known. Southern Kitchen explained that when the ingredient is used in a marinade or as a brine, its acids deconstruct the chicken meats’ protein networks, and when these reconnect, water between protein fibers gets trapped. The result is a well-seasoned buttermilk brine that makes chicken meat, whether it’s dark meat or white meat, more tender, moist, and flavorful. My Recipes also suggests that buttermilk enjoys the added benefit of being able to bind with raw chicken, giving the breading something to hang on to. But buttermilk isn’t the only thing you can use to dredge your chicken. You can also use pickle juice. Allow us to explain.
If you enjoy pickles, it may come as a surprise that pickle juice can be saved instead of thrown down the drain once you’ve emptied the jar. Athletes drink pickle juice as a way to deal with cramps associated with tired muscles, and because of its vinegar content, pickle juice can apparently act as a great weight loss aid. Tasting Table reports that pickle juice can also be used as an ingredient in a number of dishes. For instance, it makes a great dressing for coleslaw, it can be part of a hearty, home-made Thousand Island-style sauce, and with just-boiled water it can become the best marinade for a pasta salad. Tasting Table also explained that pickle juice can be used as a secret ingredient for macaroni and cheese, and to fire up dishes like deviled eggs and mashed potatoes. Pickle juice can also be a meat marinade. Food writers for publications like Men’s Journal have reported that pickle juice, with its vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic mix make it great for marinating. And because of its acidity, pickle juice also goes hand-in-hand with Southern fried chicken’s traditional buttermilk soak for extra succulent fried chicken.
Taste of Home reported that, if you don’t have any buttermilk on hand to cook with, you can always make your own by adding a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, plus enough milk to make a cup, and letting that stand for five minutes. To use pickle juice as the secret ingredient in your buttermilk brine the next time you serve fried chicken, Parade suggests that you first take a cup of the pickle juice, and whisk about with buttermilk, salt, pepper, and egg. Pour the mix into a bag, then add the chicken pieces you want to marinade, and leave the bag for at least four hours or overnight. When the chicken is ready, remove pieces from the brine, shake off any excess liquid, and then bread with a mixture of flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper, and then fry in hot oil until the pieces are golden, so about 8 to 10 minutes. Parade also recommended that you fry your chicken in batches, as overcrowding the pan is one of the easiest ways to ruin fried chicken.
“Joey doesn’t share food!” In the words of chef Dale Talde who is famous for his double-fried chicken, via Men’s Journal, “If it’s fried, it’s gotta be crunchy. If it’s chicken, it’s gotta be moist. Like all food, it has to be seasoned correctly. If it’s meant to be hot, then it has to be hot. Those things never change.” And the addition of pickle juice boosts the quality of fried chicken, so it’s basically a no-brainer. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about food prep tips are coming soon.