Pickles. Buttermilk. Fried Chicken. Yes. Pickles hold a special place in my heart, so using all that yummy juice to brine chicken was just waiting to happen. Here we have pickle juice brined, fried chicken nuggets. Best party snack ever. I served them this weekend at a BBQ and they were gone before I could get a second toothpick in there. These can always be made ahead of time and popped in the oven before serving.
makes 30-40 nuggets
for the brine:
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cubed)
1 1/2 cup dill pickle juice (I use Mt. Olive brand)
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon dry dill
1 tablespoon green chili powder
for the dredge
3/4 cups masa harina (sub corn meal if not available)
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon paprika, granulated garlic, coriander, turmeric, ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin, cayenne powder, dried oregano
2 tablespoons salt
for the buttermilk ranch
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh dill (minced)
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon salt
Get the chicken brined first. In a large mixing bowl, combine pickle juice, buttermilk, dried dill, green chili powder and chicken cubes. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in fridge for 2 hours, up to 24 hours. 2 hours does the trick though as the chicken is cubed into small pieces.
As chicken marinades, make the ranch dipping sauce. Mix Greek yogurt, mayo, buttermilk, granulated garlic, fresh dill, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and salt. Cover and let the flavors come together in the fridge as chicken brines.
Remove chicken 15 minutes prior to cooking. Drain chicken in a colander and pat all pieces dry. In a heavy bottomed, large pan, heat 1/2 inch canola oil until hot enough to make flour sizzle when dropped in. About 350 degrees.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place wire rack on top.
In a shallow bowl, combine masa harina, flour, spices, salt and pepper. Sift to combine. Drop in pieces of chicken to coat in flour mixture. (Don't forget to pat the chicken pieces dry first.) Once coated, shake off excess flour and drop into oil. Cook chicken on all 3 or 4 sides for a total of 6-7 minutes. The chicken will have a brown coating when done.
Remove chicken from oil and place on wire rack. Place in oven. Repeat process until all chicken is fried, leaving all chicken pieces on wire rack until the whole batch is fried.
Serve hot with toothpicks and homemade buttermilk ranch for easy dipping.