The Ingredient Duo For A Superbly Crunchy Chicken Sandwich

We love deep-fried food, in large part, for the textural contrast that results after bubbling away in hot oil. Fried chicken is the perfect example, with its shatteringly crispy exterior and juicy, tender interior. Breading fried chicken accentuates the textural contrast even more and makes for one of the most delicious sandwich fillings. The key ingredient duo for superbly crunchy fried chicken sandwiches is buttermilk and self-rising flour.

Buttermilk is a longstanding ingredient for fried chicken for numerous reasons: Its acidity helps tenderize chicken meat by dissolving the proteins that create tough fibers, and its thickness ensures an even coating on the skin. Lastly, buttermilk acts as an effective adhesive for the dry component of the breading. Therefore, with the help of buttermilk, you'll ensure that your fried chicken has a tender interior and a thick, even layer of breading over all of its surfaces.

While many standard buttermilk fried chicken recipes use regular, all-purpose flour, self-rising flour is the swap that'll take this ingredient duo to the crispiest heights. All-purpose flour is simply ground wheat, whereas self-rising flour blends all-purpose flour with salt and baking powder. The baking powder and flour mixture helps to create a lighter, crispier texture, while the salt helps season the chicken and breading.

The best methodology for dredging chicken

Buttermilk and self-rising flour are the quintessential ingredient duo to make your chicken extra crunchy, but the methodology for how to create a batter out of this ingredient duo is just as important. Not only will buttermilk be the wet coat, but you'll also add it to the flour to create a textured breading.

As with any breaded and fried recipe, your first order of business is to assemble a breading station of wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. The first bowl will contain the buttermilk, and the second bowl will contain the flour plus a few heaping tablespoons of buttermilk. After adding the buttermilk, roughly blend the flour with your fingers to create a lumpy, moist batter. It's the lumpy bits that will transform the fried chicken breading into that textured and shatteringly crispy shell that'll hold up under a mountain of sandwich toppings. You can further enhance the crispy crunch of your chicken with texturally complementary toppings like creamy coleslaw, soft and juicy bread and butter pickles, butter lettuce, or gooey melted cheese.

While buttermilk and self-rising flour are key to the perfect crunch, seasonings will impart much-needed flavor to the breading and the chicken sandwich as a whole. Tasting Table's recipe for spicy buttermilk fried chicken seasons breading flour with cayenne, celery seed, salt, paprika, and black pepper. It also uses buttermilk as the marinating liquid and dredging liquid.