Alright y’all, listen.
I know what you may be thinking, but before you say anything or just click away because you feel like this is just a bad idea, just stay for a few minutes hear me out.
Yes, I mean you too. Stay.
So, I too was skeptical when I first heard about this. Not gonna lie, I was even a tad bit grossed out. I like pickles on my sandwiches, but the idea of my chicken tasting like a pickle? Not so appetizing.
But fortunately, that’s not what’s going on here at all. Let me be clear: you are not going to take a bite of this and just taste pickle.
I promise, you won’t.
The whole purpose of brining in the first place is to flavor and tenderize the meat so that it stays juicy and doesn’t dry out while frying. Most times people do this by brining their chicken in buttermilk. I’ve brined chicken in both buttermilk and now, pickle juice.
Would you like to try and guess which one that I prefer?
Yep. The pickle juice. Seriously.
Normally when I did my buttermilk brines before, I would flavor the buttermilk with some spices, just to try and get some extra flavor infused into the meat. But this time, I didn’t have to bother; the pickle juice does all the work for me. All I did to prepare the chicken for the brine was throw it in a gallon size Ziploc bag, then pour the pickle juice over it, seal the bag, then put it in the fridge and walk away. That’s literally it. The spices in the pre-made pickle juices worked together to not only keep the meat moist, but they infused incredible flavor into it as well.
Once the chicken is taken out of the brine, it gets tossed into my tried & true flour mix & batter. This is the best fried chicken batter I’ve ever had or made, bar none. The crust is just out of this world. It crunches in your mouth. It’s full of flavor. It stays absolutely PUT. Even when it gets cold. Even after it’s been refrigerated, OVERNIGHT. Believe me, once you’ve made it this way, you will never go back to another fried chicken batter as long as you live.
I’m not worried about sharing this recipe with y’all because I know that once you put aside your doubts and just try this out, I’m going to make pickle brining believers out of all you. The results will speak for themselves. Your meat is going to be so tender and juicy, with just the *faintest* tang from the pickle juice. That tang is offset perfectly by the savory saltiness of the crust. It works– I was honestly surprised by how well it works.
You know how much I was won over by this? Every time we finish off a jar of pickles now, I keep the jar of juice in the back of my fridge, impatiently waiting until we go through enough of them to have enough juice to brine another batch of chicken so I can fry it up again. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what it is. Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #237, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.
Pickle Brined Chicken Tenders
- About 3-4 lbs of chicken tenderloins
- Up to 3 cups of pickle juice (enough to fully submerge the chicken, but if you don’t have enough then supplement with buttermilk)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 heaping teaspoon of Lawry’s or other seasoning salt
- 2 cups cornstarch
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1 tablespoon of your favorite mix of dry herbs (like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary)
- Plenty of seasoning salt & pepper
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon of onion powder
- Vegetable, Canola or Peanut oil for frying (4-6 cups)
Place the chicken inside gallon size resealable plastic bags, or a large shallow dish with a lid. Pour the pickle juice over the chicken, seal and refrigerate overnight.
In a medium size, shallow bowl/baking dish, combine the all purpose flour with the seasoning salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, rice flour, onion powder and water with a large whisk or flour until thoroughly combined (it’ll be thick, like tempura batter. If need be, you can thin it out with a few tablespoons of additional water).
Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or plastic wrap on the bottom, then place a wire rack on top.
Remove the chicken from the pickle juice and discard it. Dip each piece of chicken in the shallow dish of all purpose flour with a fork to get a light dusting on both sides, then dip it into batter, holding it up to allow some of the excess to drip off. Then, re dip it into the all purpose flour until the wet batter is sufficiently covered. Place the chicken on the wire rack to allow batter to set, about 2-3 minutes.
Working in batches of no more than 3 pieces at a time, fry the chicken in the oil. Turn it occasionally and monitor the temperature of the oil (a instant read thermometer works GREAT for this) as you work until it is golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. (It may look a little pale, but it browns more when you take it out, so don’t worry) When finished remove chicken to another sheet pan lined with paper towels and a wire rack to drain.