At Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick, Brooklyn, chef Nate Courtland cooks up American food inspired by the Appalachian Trail and the footpaths of the eastern United States.
There he serves up fried chicken. He offers a recipe for the home cook, but if the prospect of frying chicken dissuades you, to celebrate Independence Day, Courtland also offers fried chicken with macaroni salad and dilly green beans with a Budweiser for $10.
1 pint water
4 ounces salt
Spices (whatever you prefer. I like to use; coriander, mustard seed, peppercorns, chili, fennel seed)
2 fresh bay leaves
4 tea bags of your preference
2 ounces brown sugar
Sturdy herbs: rosemary, sage, or thyme
1 pint ice water
Combine everything except the ice water and tea bags in a pot and bring up to a simmer. Drop the tea bags in for a couple of minutes, and then pour brine into a container with ice water. Wait until liquid is cool to brine chicken.
(Recipe from Nate Courtland, head chef and partner, Montana’s Trail House)
Tips From Chef Nate Courtland:
To make the best fried chicken you always want to brine your chicken for at least 3–4 hours. The brine will season the chicken all the way through the meat and it will also retain all its juiciness after cooking. We actually soak ours in a sweet tea brine.
• -A tip I have for an at-home chicken fryer is to use the best chicken possible. An air-chilled Amish chicken is my preference, and I’ve found the skin gets extra crispy and doesn’t slide away from the meat. You also have a more intense chicken flavor with a pasture-raised or free-range chicken.
• Make the flour just right. We season all-purpose flour with a hefty amount of salt, but also cayenne pepper and cornstarch. The cornstarch will help get into all the nooks that the flour missed and get it crispy all the way around. You can also season the flour with things like garlic and onion powder if you feel like it.
• Use a probe thermometer to test when the chicken is done, but not over done. You want to carefully pull a piece of thigh or the breast out of the oil and stick the probe into the chicken as close to the bone as possible. If the chicken has reached 160 or 170 degrees, the chicken is done. Letting it rest for a few minutes will actually also help. If you cook your chicken above 180 or 190 it will begin to get dry and somewhat chewy. For the juiciest and crunchiest fried chicken, don’t overcook it.