I'm fairly certain that the last time I attempted to fry anything was over two years ago when I made cannoli. I'm also fairly certain that I promised myself at the time that I would never fry anything because of the lingering smell in my studio apartment for at least two days. Well now I live in a bigger apartment and when I received a copy of Georgia Pellegrini's book Girl Hunter, I couldn't stop thinking about her fried rabbit recipe. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was fresh off of my first Dinner at Eight party and I had fried chicken on the brain. I think it had more to do with the fact that the recipe sounded too mouthwatering to pass up.
Reading this book is just as fun as making it's recipes. Georgia is a classically trained chef with a real understanding about where her food comes from due to her hunting adventures. I love her fun, casual tone and at times the book reads more like a novel than a cookbook. It may not be easy to always find elk in the neighborhood, but Geogia provides plenty of substitutions in case certain meats are not readily accessible to you. I'm looking forward to trying many more recipes from this book.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken (or Rabbit)
(From the book Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2011)
Makes 4 servings
2-3 pounds of chicken, rabbit, turkey or other young game meat, cut into serving pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1 medium onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon cayenne, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Ground pepper to taste
2-3 cups vegetable oil
Soak the meat overnight in the buttermilk, along with the onion, garlic, herbs, paprika, 1 teaspoon of cayenne, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Drain in a colander, leaving some herbs on the meat. In a large bowl, mix the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, remaining 2 teaspoons of cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and a large pinch of black pepper. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until a pinch of flour starts to sizzle when dropped in the hot oil, but not so hot as for the oil to be smoking.
Working in batches, coat the meat in the flour mixture, dredging just enough meat to fit in the pan at one time.
Add the meat to the skillet and fry on one side for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown, then use tongs to turn the pieces over and fry for another 10-15 minutes, again until golden brown. Be careful to keep the oil hot enough to fry the meat, but not so that it burns.
Remove the beat from the skillet and place it on a wire rack over paper towels. Season immediately with salt and pepper to taste, to help preserve the crispiness for the table. This is good served immediately or also good cold for lunch the next day.