Ginger & Orange Fried Chicken

I have been on an Asian food kick recently, but taking the easy way out by partaking in mostly carry out varieties.  When I found this recipe, it persuaded me to attempt some recipes at home.

This recipe would pair well with a bright, fruit-forward New-World style Viognier.

Ginger & Orange Fried Chicken

12 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 cups buttermilk

3 tablespoons grated orange zest

2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger

Salt and freshly ground black peper

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Small pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Canola oil for frying

* Cut away the tendons from the chicken breasts and discard.

* Lightly pound the chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap to a uniform thickness.

* In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk with the orange zest and fresh ginger and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.  (Buttermilk and ginger have a tenderizing effect, so be careful not to marinate the chicken too long or it will become mushy).

* Combine the flour, curry powder, ground ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cayenne pepper in a large bowl or paper bag.

* In a large, deep frying pan or skillet, pour the oil to a depth of 3 inches and heat to 365 degrees.

* Remove the chicken breasts from the buttermilk and shake off the excess liquid.  One at a time, dredge the pieces in the seasoned flour or place them in the paper bag and shake them to coat.

* Fry until golden brown, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes per side.  If the chicken is browning too quickly, lower the heat.  Transfer the fried chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.  Serve warm.

Ginger shows well with Viognier and this is a great example of that pairing.  The fruit-forward wine has enough acidity to counter the richness of deep frying and the salt.

Recommended Viognier Producers:

Everyday: Callaway Coastal (multiple appellations, California), Pepperwood Grove (multiple appellations, California), Cline (Sonoma County, California)

Premium: Stags’ Leap Winery (Napa Valley, California), Sobon Estate (Sierra Foothills, California), Kunde (Sonoma County, California)

Splurge: Newton (Napa Valley, California), Joseph Phelps (Napa Valley, California), Cold Heaven (Southern Central Coast, California)