I love the flavour combination that comes from smoke and maple, so I brine the chicken in a maple-salt brine before smoking. Not only does this infuse the chicken with a subtly sweet flavour, it also gives it extra juiciness. We serve ours on a buttermilk waffle garnished with freshly shaved maple sugar cube and orange slices. You know, because maple-brined smoked fried chicken isn’t rich enough as it is. I never said this was a diet blog.
- 4 litres warm water
- ¼ cup table salt
- 125 ml (½ cup) maple syrup
- 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (legs, thighs, breasts and wings), skin left on
- canola oil, for deep-frying
- 250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
- 3 eggs
- 375 g (2½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 tsp sea salt, plus extra, to season
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time 3 hours
To brine the chicken, place the warm water, table salt and maple syrup in a large saucepan and stir until dissolved. Add the chicken pieces and refrigerate for 2–3 hours to brine. Remove the chicken, discarding the brine, and pat dry with paper towel.
To smoke the chicken, set your smoker to smoke (your goal here is to infuse smokiness but cook the chicken as little as possible, so make sure to keep the temperature on your smoker as low as possible. I kept mine between at 60–70ºC). Place the chicken in the smoker, close the lid and smoke for 30 minutes–1 hour or until the chicken is slightly yellow on the edges.
To fry the chicken, in a large saucepan or medium casserole, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat to 180ºC. Meanwhile, whisk the buttermilk and eggs in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the flour, sea salt, cracked pepper, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Dip 2 pieces of chicken into the buttermilk mixture and turn to coat. Transfer immediately to the flour mixture and turn to coat (make sure the chicken is well coated by pressing the flour into the chicken). Gently shake off the excess flour.
Once the oil begins to shimmer on the surface, slowly dip a piece of battered chicken into the oil to test the temperature (I use a wing as my tester piece). If it turns golden within 30 seconds, the oil is too hot; if it doesn’t sizzle at all, the oil is not hot enough. Adjust the temperature as necessary until the chicken sizzles and bubbles when it hits the oil, but doesn’t turn golden immediately.
Cook the chicken pieces, rotating once or twice to ensure even goldenness, for 4–5 minutes or until golden and cooked through. (If you notice the chicken turning golden much faster, reduce the heat and wait for the oil to cool down before proceeding so you don’t end up with raw chicken on the inside.) Coat another 2 chicken pieces while the first batch is frying, then repeat the process with the remaining chicken.
Remove the chicken from the oil and transfer to a wire rack or plate lined with paper towel to drain. Season with a pinch of sea salt, if desired, and serve.
Recipe from Chocolate + Marrow by Brooke Bass, with photographs by Brooke Bass.