Gluten-free fried chicken and kefir

If you have never tried kefir, it is a yogurt-like milk product. It is more acidic than the average yogurt and much more liquid. It’s best consumed as a drink, but I also enjoy it over my homemade granola. It’s also a perfect complement to this fried chicken recipe. The smooth, tart flavour cuts through the heaviness of fried foods.

For this recipe, I like to use kefir instead of buttermilk to marinate the chicken. The reason is simply that we usually have kefir in the fridge and never have buttermilk. Really, how often do you have buttermilk around? Kefir is a great substitution because it has many of the same properties as buttermilk, such as acidity. Just as the buttermilk will help fried chicken remain moist and allow the breading to stick, so will kefir.

Now, you may be wondering why a vegetarian is providing a recipe for fried chicken. Well, my wife eats some animal protein and I am not one to push my agenda on other people. That would be disrespectful. Yes, I would encourage everyone to eat less meat (or none at all), if asked. However, I also hope that, if you do eat meat, you make an effort to respect your protein by turning it into something beautiful. This recipe combines a classic dish with contemporary sensibilities into an updated and refined gluten-free comfort food. It is also one of my wife’s favorites.

Corn Flour Fried Chicken

2 free-range chicken breasts, cut into strips.

Kefir or buttermilk

Salt (about a pinch)

1 cup corn flour (NOT cornmeal, but corn flour)

1 cup rice flour

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon onion powder (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Oil for frying

1)       Take the first three ingredients and combine them. Use enough kefir or buttermilk to coat the chicken but not much more. Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to eight. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except the oil, of course).

2)       If you have a deep-fryer, then turn it on to 350F. If not, then, fill a pot with at least three inches of oil and bring it up to the required temperature on the stovetop. This method is a bit more dangerous and requires a bit of work to manage the temperature of the oil. That said, you should not be afraid to try it. Just remember that you’re working with hot oil and be careful. Also, always make sure that the oil is hot enough when you add the chicken, but not hot enough to burn it. If it’s smoking visibly, it’s too hot. A thermometer is the best way to check the temperature of the oil.

3)       Using tongs, remove the chicken from the marinade one piece at a time, drop into the flour mixture, and thoroughly coat. Move the chicken to the hot oil and fry until a nice golden colour, keeping track of the time. Check the first piece to make sure that it’s cooked through and make a note of how long it took. It should be about five minutes. Use this as a guide for cooking the rest of it. Cook the chicken in batches and avoid crowding the pot. Adjust the heat if necessary, so as to maintain a steady temperature. Take your time and do it right. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper-lined plate or tray to drain the excess oil and season lightly.

4)       Serve hot with your favorite accompaniment. If it were me, I’d serve it with a nice coleslaw and a glass of kefir. Enjoy.

NOTE: Do not save any leftover coating. It has touched raw chicken, so use it up or throw it away!

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