Monday, August 10, 2009

The Little Fried Chicken

The last time I deep-fried a Cornish hen I ate it so fast that there were few good pictures. I think I gnawed on the camera a little, too.

The premise is simple: buttermilk bath in the fridge for as long as you and the chicken can stand it. Then dredging it in seasoned flour, pressing the flour against the skin with your fingers; and stuffing the cavity with your favourite herb. This time I used a LOT of summer savoury, and it perfumed all the tender meat of the little bird. It cooked for 20 minutes a side, the oil reaching not quite half way up. I turned the oil down from furious to meaningful as soon as it had reached an even bubbling, as I did not want to scorch the batter without cooking the meat inside.

Again, the gremolata of finely chopped Italian parsley from the terrace and Black swallowtail eggs (...) and lemon zest, made the world of difference. I did not add garlic as I thought that would be too strong.

More detail here.


  1. I just found your blog and I love it. Really enjoy all the cooking and gardening..but most of all the inspiration. I also live in a small cottage here in San Luis Obispo, CA. We are on the central coast half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Ever hear of it?
    And as far as that game hen goes....I have never seen one deep fried whole like looks amazing.I can smell it all the way to CA !

    I'll check back soon.
    Have a great week.

  2. That was really appealing till you came to the eggs part..... groooh!

    But I might try it without the black swallowtail garnish some day. Thanks.

  3. You are correct in the assumption that garlic would be too strong...for the delicate eggs!

    Of all the foody blogs out there, this must be one of the most amusing.

  4. Mmmmm. You just know we're going to try this some time.

  5. I followed the nytimes link to your blog and wanted to let you know that I think your blog is divine! I love your terrace as well as your roof garden designs, really fantastic!

  6. what was the fate of the children of swallowtail, anyway? all swallowed? unceremoniously dropped from the terrace? sent out on the orphan train? estorbo hasn't written any caterpillar posts.

  7. excuse the ignorance but what are black swallowtail eggs?
    Deep frying in oil - haven't done this before. Is it regular sunflower or canola oil? Incidentally I've been told the boiling point of olive oil is all wrong for any kind of frying - even the usual start-up shallots in olive oil, in the pan - verboten! the health chefs say. They advocate using peanut oil or other oils with a high boiling point. What about the mediterranean cuisine I asked weakly - can they all be wrong? Well, maybe they just used what was available, not was is best... Do you have any thoughts / knowledge on this?

  8. Kary - hi again and thanks for visiting all the way from CA!

    Rachel - heheheh. Sorry. I checked very carefully for butterfly eggs and there were none. Still hatching a couple

    Dinahmow - ever the gourmande! Ha, that's funny, and thank you.

    Jen - look forward to your is delish, I kid you not.

    Hi opera glass - thank you! I hope to post some more roof gardens in progress soon. Just need the time to process pictures!

    Donna, you're right, I totally did not follow up. Thanks for the reminder. They are in situ, at least, a couple are, and another butterfly made a flyby a few days ago. We eat the parsley and I finecomb it for tell-tale worms to be.

    Hi Marijks. You Philistine!!! heheheh. Click the link in the post to the one about the butterfly laying eggs on my parsley.

    Deep frying. I don't do it either, aside from this chicken, that I've made twice now this year. I used canola oil. Aside from the cost, deep frying in olive oil may be too cloying flavour-wise anyway, and it has a lower heat threshold, yes. Sure, deep frying is apparently the start of all sorts of carcinogenic reactions (so is braaing) but I ain't going to NOT deep fry once in a blue moon as a result. As for not sauteeing in olive ouil...puh-lease. Ag no man.

    I don't know why I have a knee jerk reaction to the term 'health chef'...there is something so humourless and self-important about it. Cooking is about living, and enjoyment, and yes, often it is about self medicating in the positive sense, but I say...dragging the soapbox over...that the parsley and lime gremolata CUT through all that fat and went to work at once on the bad litte guys. And THEN you have fruit for dessert which does the same thing.

    Pant pant pant

    Phew, its exhausting being defensive :-)

    Ja nee. Everything in moderation, hey?

  9. Summer savory is amazing, isn't it? I am always passing it on to my friends to try. I loaded up a friend just last night and dug up a bunch of plants last week for a different friend. It's a shame that more people don't know about it!

  10. Louie and Fuzzy dash over, bearing large fans (looking suspiciously like hosta leaves), climb up the ladder so they are at the right height, and fan Ms Marie to help cool her off. Meanwhile, Sylvie and Gingy in a rare harmonious mood make off with half a lovely crispy game hen such as their "mother" never makes for them, the poor things...

  11. OMG, a whole deep-fried cornish hen?? Too divine!


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