Three weeks in and I love my new job. I am helping organise digital focused accounts, running research for new leads, and presenting to potential new clients (and actually seeing leads converting). A lot of unlearning is going on while I try to settle myself in — which entails reaching office on time and most importantly, getting my calendar in order. We work on corporate speed but with startup timelines which is why my organisation skills are still out of whack. This week something interesting happened that really got me thinking. I was at a pitch for which I had contributed enough to actually present to the client and even though I was working on the presentation, there were some slides that were as new to me as they were to the people we were showcasing them to. One that really struck me was the slide titled “team structure.”
There were a slew of names in a column, next to all the relevant brands we have worked with, and then there was a column— years of experience. Most had a number attached to it and a plus sign next to it. Mine had a well rounded 2. Two years of experience, while technically correct, is a little over five months far away. I wasn’t offended by the round up because I understand that clients are scared when the name “digital lead” and 1 year of experience are used in the same sentence. My last job did this too but at least this was mathematically correct. When I saw this, I immediately thought of something that my dad said some time ago. While I was searching for a job 18 months ago (read two years for any potential clients), I was frustrated that every job description (even the ones for carpenters, and yes I did spread my search that wide) had a work experience requirement of 2-3 years, almost like no one ever wants a malleable, young, fresh mind. I expressed this to my dad who explained what experience really meant. He said experience, something every company values, isn’t always what new you might add to a team, but it could be how many times you have the same job again and again. Repetition is what experience really is. It’s the ability to conduct something flawlessly and troubleshoot if needed. Now, he works with airplanes which is a lot more systems driven than communications but I kind of understood it even though I didn’t want to agree with him.
Glimpses from the week
I agreed with him when I started making this fried chicken. Every other month, I ask my Instagram followers what they want to see on the blog just to understand what people are craving and keep a pulse on trends. For the most part, I love the suggestions. I have made pies, my Amma’s recipes, and carrot cake (its still to come up!). The one request that I really loved was fried chicken. I try to stay away from frying too much food but, oh do I love fried chicken. No, not KFC fried chicken but actual American, southern style fried chicken that has a crispy dry skin and kernels of fried dough attached to it. You would think that fried chicken is easy (and a tasty video would convince you of the same) but in fact, if you really want super crispy chicken, you need at least 24 hours. I learnt this by the process of repetition. I began in October by frying breaded panko chicken drumsticks in veggie oil which turned out mediocre. The breading was thin and soaked a lot of oil. The oil left so much residue that subsequent chicken pieces had charred particles clinging to them. And, it didn’t have that classic orange color that you look for in fried chicken. I then started reading a lot of different recipes which led me to invest in oil thermometers, peanut oil, and also taught me how to make buttermilk from scratch. It took me another 3 weeks to perfect the batter, dry brine, and a midwest style fry sauce for a fried chicken sandwich— all in time for a late lunch with my bestie Vikrant <3
So here’s a recipe of fried chicken (best served as a sandwich), inspired by Bon Appetit and the Food Lab book by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried dill (optional)
1 cup buttermilk (1 cup of milk + 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Leave in for 5 minutes)
1 large egg
500 grams of chicken drumsticks, 500 grams of chicken thighs
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 cups peanut oil
Place fresh chicken on a tray, add salt on the skin side of the chicken, and leave it in the fridge uncovered overnight (optional but preferred)
Combine the paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and cayenne in a small bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork.
Whisk the buttermilk, egg, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss and turn to coat. Transfer the contents of the bowl to a gallon-sized zipper-lock freezer bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (4 hours max), flipping the bag occasionally to redistribute the contents and coat the chicken evenly.
Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and the remaining spice mixture in a large bowl.
Add 3 tablespoons of the marinade from the zipper-lock bag and work it into the flour with your fingertips. Remove one piece of chicken from the bag, allowing excess buttermilk to drip off, drop the chicken into the flour mixture, and toss to coat. Continue adding chicken pieces to the flour mixture one at a time until they are all in the bowl. Toss the chicken until every piece is thoroughly coated, pressing with your hands to get the flour to adhere in a thick layer.
In a skillet on medium low heat, add peanut oil and let it reach 180 Celsius (about 350 F). Then add your chicken but maintain a temperature of 150 celsius (about 300 F). This is the best temperature to fry any protein and ensure it cooks all the way through. Fry on side for 6 minutes. Don’t touch for the first three minutes to prevent the breading from coming off. Then, flip and cook for another 4 minuets
Take it out and place it on a wire rack or a newspaper lined plate. Sprinkle salt salt immediately.
Serve with toasted burger buns and a fry sauce (2 tablespoons mayo, 1 tablespoon sriracha, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 tablespoon jalapeño brine or any acid you have on hand).