To make deep-fried chicken for four hungry diners, you will need:
For the brine
- 240ml apple juice
- 600ml water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 120g sage leaves
- 150g coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1kg ice cubes
For the chicken
- Plenty of canola or sunflower oil
- 1 chicken (2kg)
- 420g plain flour
- 12 sage leaves
- 4g salt
- 4g coarsely ground black pepper
Begin with the brine. Combine the apple juice, water, crushed and peeled garlic cubes, hand-torn sage leaves, coarse salt and peppercorns in a large saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring this mixture to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes or so.
Remove the pan from the stove and pour in the ice. Weird, I know, but that’s brining for you. Let it cool for 10 minutes.
Quarter the fowl on a chopping board using a cleaver. Transfer the quarters to the brine and stick the bowl in the fridge for a couple of hours while you work on your novel.
Chicken time again. Remove the brined chicken, dry on a paper towel, and dump the used brine. Rub the brined fowl with half the salt and pepper. Mix the other half with the flour in a large bowl.
Outside, assemble a gas cooker, a large cast-iron pot (stainless steel is fine), a cooking thermometer suitable for very hot oil, and a large roasting pan with a wire rack. Pour fresh canola oil into the pot to a depth of 40mm. Clip the thermometer to the rim with its thermocouple in the oil but not resting on the side or bottom of the pot.
Ignite, and wait for the oil to reach 160°C. Sustain this temperature throughout. Take care! Boiling oil was weaponised during the Middle Ages.
Drag two pieces of chicken through the flour and knock off the excess. With tongs, lower the chicken into the hot and dangerous oil and deep-fry for 20 minutes, turning every two minutes. Do the clear juice test to ensure the chicken is cooked right through. Remove, place on the rack and cook the other quarters.
Wilt the sage leaves in the hot oil for a minute, and use them as a garnish. Serve this superb meal with mashed potato with butter and coarse mustard.
David Basckin is a freelance journalist and videographer.