It’s the Super Bowl this weekend, which means it’s time to talk about food to eat during the big game. Many Americans order pizza during the Super Bowl. In fact, it’s the pizza business’s busiest day of the year. Pizza Hut announced last month they’ll hire an additional 11,000 employees in time for Sunday’s game. When it’s game day for me though, I don’t eat pizza. I eat fried chicken.
Don’t think fried chicken started with a certain white-suited colonel. It’s a dish that has been around a long time—like thousands of years before the birth of Christ long time. When people began domesticating chickens, they initially kept them mostly for egg production and as natural alarm clocks (unfortunately, there is no snooze button on a rooster). But when hens got old enough that they weren’t very useful for egg production anymore, people started to cook with them, and thus fried chicken was born.
Early recipes for the dish weren’t quite what we eat today. The fried chicken most people know is the Americanized version of the dish. When the British came to the American colonies, chickens came too. With large tracks of available land came the potential for large chicken farms, and the Southern colonies became the hotbed of fried chicken evolution.
American-style fried chicken first appeared in a cookbook with the release of Hannah Glasse’s “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy,” a book I also mentioned in our discussion of mashed potatoes last year. That recipe called for dredging the marinated pieces of chicken in flour and frying them in pig lard (oh yeah!), something clearly recognizable to today’s fried chicken cooks.
Thanks to advances in farming, what used to be a special occasion meal in ancient times quickly became a commonly made dish. Although it was initially closely associated with the South, fried chicken has been embraced across the country and, thanks to chains like Kentucky Fried Chicken, available in just about any corner of the globe.
My wife grew up throughout the South, so thankfully for me she has been making fried chicken for a long time. She does this amazing Korean spiced fried chicken, but only once or twice a year. For the last few years, I have made sure that one of those times is Super Bowl Sunday.
There are countless ways to make fried chicken now. You can keep it pretty traditional with a standard flour batter, you can make a crispy fried chicken sandwich, or you can put it on waffles and cover it in syrup (one of my favorites), just to name a few. When my wife makes it, she makes it with spicy Korean flavors: hot peppers, bean paste, and a few other spices I have been threatened against revealing.
Here’s the basic premise. She takes chicken tenders and drumsticks and dredges them in an egg wash with buttermilk and some other goodness, then shakes them in a brown paper bag with flour, salt, and a few other spices. Then she lets it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes, before removing it, adding the rest of the spices plus some more flour, and shaking it again.
After a brief chance to come to room temp, she uses peanut oil to fry the chicken pieces in batches. Voilà, the best spicy fried chicken you’ve ever made. Serve it with a Sriracha-mayo dipping sauce and you’ve got the perfect Super Bowl meal.
It’s messy, tasty, and worth every ounce of effort. The chicken ends up being this tender, juicy, spicy, crispy goodness that is perfect for a halftime meal during the Super Bowl. Just add a good beer and some Fritos and you’ve got yourself the perfect game grub.