Sunday, March 8, 2020

Pickle Chicken


Is it a trick or a treat? When you find a surprise flavor or hidden ingredient in a dish are you pleased or peeved?  Given all the hype about chicken sandwiches lately, I've been wanting to try a copycat of some of the more popular fast food items, but found the obstacles great and the need for many subs due to my family's food allergies (i.e. soy "buttermilk", GF flour), although I'm generally not daunted by such things. But along the way of my chicken recipe search, I came across a trend of brining the chicken in pickle juice! "Eww" or "Ohh" decide.
Image result for pickle jar
After the pickles were all eaten in a medium sized jar (which took about 1 day in my house), I stuck the leftover brine in the fridge until I was ready to cook my chicken later in the week. A great sale on chicken legs dictated the cut of chicken I would use. I decided to keep it simple and just used pickle juice and a about a tablespoon of agave nectar, to take the edge of the acidity of the brine, to marinate the chicken. I marinated it overnight, then crumb coated with GF panko and rice crumbs for a majorly crunchy coating. I prefer to oven fry my chicken (and many other things), it's simpler, less messy and healthier. It yielded  a perfectly browned and crispy coating!

But, the proof is in the eating. After the initial crunch of the coating, I was gifted with one of the most tender pieces of baked chicken I ever sank my teeth into. The brining really did the trick to soften the meat.  The taste was  a surprise. To me it tasted like a chicken or turkey sandwich with pickles on it, which I love!  To others who tasted it, they couldn't quite place the taste at first and then they reconciled that it looked like one thing and tasted like another.

We decided that these would work great with pickle strips and a creamy dip like ranch or creamy jalapeno. The dish isn't hot spicy, but rather has a bright "zingy" flavor. The type of pickle juice you use will affect the dish too. I don't recommend using a too sweet variety like bread and butter, but dill or half sour would work well.  Overall, this chicken dish is a great addition to the plethora of pickle flavored foods from potato chips to ice cream.

As mentioned above, you can use any cut of chicken and any type of gluten free bread crumbs. To pump up your pickly flavor, you might want to try pickle flavored potato chips crumbled up in place of some of the bread crumbs. 
Pickle Chicken

1 chicken cut into 1/8ths (or equivalent amount of other cuts of chicken)
Juice from a 32 ounce jar of pickles (can be less, as it just needs to cover chicken)
1 Tablespoon agave nectar or honey
2 cups gluten free panko or favorite bread crumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon spicy paprika
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

Place chicken in a non-reactive bowl or baking dish (like pyrex) or a large ziploc. 

Mix together the pickle juice and agave or honey and pour over chicken to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or lid, and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight, turning midway through marinating time.

Place panko and spices in a paper or plastic bag, big enough to hold a piece of chicken. Shake to combine.  Spray a non-stick baking pan with cooking spray. 

Drain pickle juice from chicken and discard. Put chicken pieces in bag of crumbs one at a time, and shake well to coat. Place chicken on baking pan. Generously spray top of chicken with cooking spray.

Bake at 375F (for whole pieces) for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (or until a meat thermometer reaches the correct temperature for doneness). 350F for half an hour for chicken cutlets, until they are no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

Yield: 6 servings