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Venetian-style fried chicken recipe
If you dream of fried chicken, do try making it yourself – I promise it tastes so much better than shop-bought versions that you reheat in the oven (or buy as fast food).
I have a portable deep-fat fryer, which I plug in outside when I’m frying chicken because it makes my wife Natalie a lot happier – the smell of fried chicken can linger somewhat. However, you can simply use a deep, heavy-based saucepan on the hob if you prefer.
This is a favourite in our household – a dish to serve in the warmer months, outside as part of a barbecue, and with cold beers alongside. The recipe makes enough fried chicken for four people (or two very hungry ones!).
This recipe is from my latest cookbook, The Italian Pantry. If you'd like to get your copy signed, just pop into the kitchen when you're in the restaurant and say hello.
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2cm (¾in) pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little sea salt
Pared zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
200ml (7fl oz) sunflower oil
100g (3½oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
100g (3½oz) dried breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Flaky sea salt
Place the chicken in a large bowl with the olive oil, sage, garlic and lemon zest strips and juice. Mix well, cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave to marinate for 2 hours.
Pour the oil into a large, deep frying pan and heat it to 160°C/315°F on a cooking thermometer. (If you don’t have a thermometer simply drop a few breadcrumbs into the hot oil – if they sizzle and rise to the top within 30 seconds then the oil is ready.)
Tip the flour on to a large plate, then tip the breadcrumbs on to another and the beaten eggs into a shallow bowl. Take out the chicken from the fridge and remove the lemon zest strips. Carefully take a few of the chicken pieces and roll them in the flour. Once they are fully coated, roll them in the beaten egg and finally roll them in the breadcrumbs. Coat a few pieces at a time, so as not to overcrowd the plates.
When the chicken is nicely coated in the breadcrumbs, start frying it in the hot oil – again, do this in batches. Once each batch is dark golden all over and crisp, remove the chicken from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain it on kitchen paper. Transfer them to a metal baking tray and keep them in a warm oven (about 140°C/120°C fan/275°F/Gas 1) while you fry the remaining batches.
Serve the chicken immediately with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon – and a cold beer.