I made my own Chesters chicken at home and it wasn’t too bad
Pretty spenny though
In Fallowfield, we are spoilt by tasty takeaway choices. Whether it be drunk munch on the way home at 3 in the morning or hungover grub at 4 the next day, there are plenty of options for us to sink our teeth into. One that I am particularly partial to is Chesters, arguably the best chicken shop in the area – that red salt on those chips is as addictive as crack. I wanted to see if I could recreate their chicken and chips at home to test whether it’s possible to get those flavours outside of the Wilmslow Road haven. Here’s how it went.
All of the ingredients cost me £12.10 from our beloved Sainsbury’s Fallowfield (not including basics like salt, pepper and sugar – shame on you if you don’t already have those), so catering for 2 it comes in at a steep £6.05 each, compared to £4.99 for a 3 Pieces Value Meal at Chesters. Having said that, all the spices purchased would last you ages, as would the vegetable oil and chips.
Time efficiency: 1/10
The chicken thighs and drumsticks were soaked in buttermilk for 4 hours in the fridge to get that chicken nice and tender, so already not clocking in as very fast food. Coating the chicken in flour and spices and then frying it then took another 30 mins, followed by another 10 mins for frying the chips. So 4 hours and 40 mins from start to finish, but the first 4 hours can be done long in advance! The longer the chicken sits in the buttermilk, the tastier it will be, so I don’t advise scrimping on this step.
Pretty damn good. The chicken was tender and succulent, with a crisp coating spiced to perfection. One of my housemates was heard saying: “This is better than the real deal!” as he tucked into his chicken thigh, which is about as high praise as it can get. After quite a few attempts and lots of grim tasting, I managed to mix together a red salt that rivalled that of Chesters. It was the perfect combination of sweet, smoky and salty – all that was missing was that delicious hint of MSG.
Verdict: A tasty meal but probably not one that would be successfully made by a drunk person in the middle of the night. Hot oil is something best dodged by someone with little coordination. However, I would say it would be worth it to make this for a chilled Saturday meal with your mates in front of the football or a film.
It would undeniably be faster and probably cheaper to drag yourself to Chesters and buy your chicken there, but it is more fun, more tasty and more satisfying to make it yourself at home, where you know exactly what’s going into it.
The best thing to take away from this recipe to use at home is the red salt. That stuff is gold dust and would taste good sprinkled on anything. And it will only cost you a few quid to buy all the ingredients!
If you fancy attempting this at home, here is the recipe (serves 2):
- Put a pack of chicken thighs and drumsticks in a bowl. Pour over 500ml buttermilk, cover in clingfilm, then put in the fridge. Leave for minimum of 4 hours. If you have time, leave it overnight for the best results.
- Make the spice rub by mixing the 250g self-raising flour with teaspoons of thyme, onion powder, garlic, paprika, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.
- When the chicken is done, shake off any excess buttermilk then dip the chicken pieces individually into the spice and flour mixture. Roll through the mixture to ensure they are fully coated, then place on a plate.
- Heat the oven to 150 degrees celcius.
- Pour around half of the vegetable oil into a large pan, but make sure it is not more than halfway full. Heat on a low heat for a few minutes. To test the temperature, dip a chip into the oil. If it sizzles, we are ready for frying!
- Gently place 3 or 4 pieces of chicken into the pan. Turn over after 7 minutes, then remove from the pan with metal tongs or a slotted spoon after another 7 minutes.
- Repeat this step to fry the remaining pieces of chicken. Place all pieces on a baking tray and put in the oven to keep warm.
- Whilst the chicken is frying, make your red salt mixture. Simply combine the salt, paprika, onion, garlic, cayenne and sugar in a small bowl.
- Wait a few minutes for the oil to return to high temperature. Test again with a chip to ensure it is hot enough. Once it is, gently add one portion of chips to the oil. Remove with a slotted spoon after 4-5 minutes and place on a plate with a piece of kitchen paper on it. Then add the other portion and again cook for 4-5 minutes – add these to the other plate of chips.
- Sprinkle the chips liberally with red salt
- Remove the chicken from the oven – serve chicken and chips with your favourite sauces and some salad if you fancy eating something green