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!
Cooktop Cove
Fried chicken with pesto sauce
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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