The final fried chicken frontier: fried chicken with pesto sauce

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Gravy, hot sauce, ranch sauce … chances are you’ve dipped your chicken in it all. After all, fried chicken is one of the best receptacles for a densely flavorful sauce. But, there’s one sauce you may have forgotten: pesto! Think about it. You put pesto on plain pasta or on a lackluster sandwich, and it brings the dish to life. Why not give fried chicken that extra kick?
If you’re not completely convinced, or you're cooking for a home full of picky eaters, you could whip up an additional, more traditional sauce as well, and see which one goes over the best. It might just surprise you!
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Cooktop Cove
Fried chicken with pesto sauce
4
20 minutes
20 minutes
40 minutes
2-3 cups buttermilk
3 generous tablespoons kosher salt
1 chicken, 3-4 pounds, cut into 10 pieces -- or buy a precut selection of drums and thighs
½ cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, separated
4 eggs
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups neutral oil, depending on the size of the frying pot. Use lard, peanut, canola or a combination of peanut and vegetable oil)
In a large ziplock bag, combine the buttermilk and salt. Add the chicken pieces, and allow to soak at least 30 minutes. You can also refrigerate it overnight.
In a small food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Pulse until a pesto paste forms. Set aside.
In a medium shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.
In another medium shallow bowl combine the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese and pepper.
Place the oil or lard in a deep skillet or deep fryer if you have one, and heat to 350 F.
Prepare a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
Remove the chicken from the brine one piece at a time, allowing any excess brine to drip off before coating the chicken evenly in the flour mixture, then in the beaten egg, then in the flour mixture again. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture.
Place the largest pieces of chicken in the skillet or deep fryer first, and the smallest last. Cook for 5 minutes before flipping the chicken to ensure even browning. The interior of the thighs should register 175 F and the breasts 165 F.
Place the cooked chicken on the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain any excess oil.
Serve with the pesto sauce and a garnish of fresh, torn basil leaves.
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