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Denver Hot Chicken the Zombie Spice Rub Way: They'll Keep *Coming* For More

Eating chicken fried, is quintessential. Yes, chicken is awesome every other method, too. Baked, grilled, broiled, et. al. The kicker is that feeling after making it fresh, your way; heavenly. Let's face it. These days, fried chicken with a crispy crust is standard. Now, those ridges and crevices of goodness is a clean canvas for so many add-ons to make it yours. For us, we're inspired by Middle Eastern Tandoori Chicken meets Nashville Hot Chicken styles. It's where that [yogurt] brine is married with [Nashville's] post-fry fixin's (coated in that cayenne bath & seasoning).

Now, our recipe calls for a wet breading batter; combining the flour mixture containing Zombie Powder with a mixture of liquids, such as beer combined with sparkling water. Those bubblies help make for that oh-so-pleasing crunch.

Oh, quick side-note: we're writing up a separate post on tips-n-tricks for creating the best fried chicken in your 'hood. We did it so this recipe post wouldn't be super, super long to read.

Here's Our Take on Fried Chicken, from Denver, CO, the Zombie Spice Rub Way:

Pre-Prep

  • First step which is our pre-prep step: this write-up will focus on cooking 3 to 4 pounds of chicken pieces; the go-to is bone-in, skin-on thighs. These raw chicken pieces are brined for a minimum of four (4) hours. Ideally, at least twenty-four (24) hours in a buttermilk-based brine made from:
    • three (3) cups of buttermilk
    • third (1/3) cup kosher salt
    • two (2) tablespoons white sugar
  • #foodhack: brine in recyclable, 1 Gallon Freezer Ziplock bags. Easy cleanup! Makes for ease of flipping and re/massaging the chicken during the brining stage.
    • Shopping Checklist for Cooking Day:
      • the Star of the Show: chicken - our local butcher provides quality. Of course, your go-to source/brand will shine here
      • All Purpose (AP) Flour 
      • Cornstarch
      • Canola Oil + Sunflower Oil (50/50 blend in the cast iron pan)
      • SnP - that's Salt & Pepper
      • Onion Powder
      • Garlic Powder
      • we love blending in Chipotle Chili Powder
      • Zombie Spice Rub Co.'s Zombie Powder (blue labeled jar)
      • 1 can of your favorite beer
      • 1 can/bottle of your favorite sparkling water, hint of lemon is preferable

    Prep

    Put the time in here to pre-prep and plan out the countertop organization will make you golden at the finish line. We work backwards; from where you want the serving dish & post-fried chicken to end up for the last seasoning, backwards.

    • First, set that last station up first. The serving platter. 
    • Next comes that drying rack over a backing sheet where the post-fried chicken can both rest and get its final seasoning
    • Next, set up the pan that will hold the brined, raw chicken after it has been dredged in batter.
    • Fourth, get dredging station set up; shallow bowls or pans. Our approach is two of them. The first holds the first coating for the brined, raw chicken pieces made of flour/cornstarch dry mix (we got you, the measurements are in the next section). The second vessel will hold the wet batter mixture. We use our trusty salad bowl. It's depth and size does the trick.
    • The last station that takes up the counter real-estate is the pan that is holding the brined chicken.

    Cook

    First step here, get the cooking pan of oil going before working in your dredging station. Warm it up slow and get the temp to hold just north of 350 to 360 degrees F.

    Second, prep the dry breading dredging station - the first coating for the brined, raw chicken - combine:
    • 2 to 2 1/2 cups AP flour
    • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper
    • 1 tablespoon of Chipotle Chili Powder

      Mix this flour concoction. Now, we give our brined chicken pieces a quick rinse and light pat-down with paper towels. We found over the years, while the flour coating looks too light, it makes a huge difference when attention is applied to shake off the excess breading coat.

      Third, prep the wet batter dredge station - combine:
      • 3 to 4 cups AP flour
      • 2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
      • 2 inches of Zombie Powder [yes, 2 inches as the measurement from either spice jar size]
      • 1/2 can of your favorite brew + 1 can of sparkling water

      The end resulting batter should be thick, but somewhat runny; almost like pancake batter consistency. We know that's a loaded description since everyone varies that =D We go One Second Rule: takes that long for the batter to drip off a wooden spoon.

      The fourth and last step in this Cook phase is to give your battered chicken pieces a hot bath in that cooking oil. We use our trusty cast iron cookware and use half canola oll and half sunflower oil. Use oils that have a high smoke point. Olive oil just doesn't work. A few inches works to fry chicken. We tend to use a deeper cast iron post so at the halfway mark, we're about 4 to 5 inches deep. That oil needs to be maintained around the 350 degree F mark so overcrowding the cooking pan is a no-no.

      Remember to dip one end of the chicken in the hot oil and lay it in moving away from your body e.g. never drop or plop the chicken pieces in hot cooking oil. While cooking, we flip the pieces at least once, usually thrice at the most.

      We tend to work in batches of 2 to 3 pieces. The magic number is 14 minutes for each piece of chicken. Of course, it will be less for smaller pieces, like the drumstick and wing, more for a plump-sized breast. A bomb-proof method would involve using a meat thermometer. The internal chicken temperature needs to get to 165 degrees F (don't hit a bone with that probe).

      Post-Cook

      As soon as you can, after the chicken has been removed from the frying oil and placed on the drying rack (with a sheet pan underneath), drizzle some of that canola/sunflower 50/50 mix on top of each piece. Follow that with a shake of Zombie Powder. 

      Phew! That's it! While this was a long read, it does go quick with all that moving and shaking and dipping and checking and whatnot. Quite frankly, after you see and hear the accolades, it is worth it, right?

      We'd love to see how yours turned out! Leave a comment below. Post your pics on Facebook and/or Instagram and tag us @zombiespicerub. Might be some schwag in it for you =D

      PS - What made our chicken dish version worthy of memorializing it on our blog? The coating was still crunchy the next day! Nothing like a piece of cold, fried chicken and a glass of milk to start the day. Yes. We. Did.

      You got this, #mealtimeowner

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      1. Click: Contact Us (multiple options listed)
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