Week 14's adventure was a successful recipe conversion.Unfortunately, success did not occur the first time we attempted this! Our starting point was a wonderfully delicious batter-fried chicken recipe from Cook's Country (the August/September 2009 issue). When we made this in the pre-salt-avoiding days it was messy, but super good. Well worth the clean up.
The major problem we needed to solve was how to brine the chicken in a low sodium way. When we tried again about a month ago, we substituted KCl for the NaCl. The result was some really funky off tastes that overpowered all of the other flavors. We could have tried the recipe and omitted the brine altogether, but we felt that it was important to the texture of the chicken - especially the white meat. This week we tried again with a modified "brine" with greatly reduced salt content and had better luck. Our only other modification was to omit the salt from the batter.
*Since I cannot tell how much of the salt in the brine ends up inside the chicken, my sodium math is only approximate. To be safe, I will assume that all of it somehow gets incorporated and my estimate will represent an upper limit for this recipe.
Batter Fried Chicken - serves 4 (not more than 675 mg sodium per serving*, but probably much less)
1 Q water
1 T salt
3 T sugar
2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (breasts should be cut in half to reduce volume of each piece)
1/2 c flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1 T pepper
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t low-sodium baking powder
1 c cold water
3 Q oil (peanut or vegetable)
Dissolve the salt and sugar in 1 Q of water, then soak the chicken in this brine for 30 minutes to 1 hour (in refrigerator).
Whisk the flour, cornstarch, seasonings, baking powder and water together in a large bowl. Refrigerate this mixture while chicken brines.
Heat the cooking oil in a large Dutch oven to 350 degrees. Remove chicken from refrigerator and drain the brine. pat chicken dry with paper towels. Stir batter and add chicken pieces to bowl. Transfer chicken to cook pot one piece at a time, allowing excess batter to drip back into bowl. To avoid crowding the pan, work in small batches. Keeping oil between 300 and 325 degrees, cook the chicken until batter is golden brown and meat meat reaches 160 F for white meat and 175 F for dark. This should take 12-15 minutes. Drain cooked chicken on wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Reheat oil to 350 F between batches.