Popcorn Chicken Two Ways: Southern Style and Italian Style

  • Yield : 6 servings
  • Prep Time : 20m
  • Cook Time : 15m
  • Ready In : 35m
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  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Canola or vegetable oil, for deep-frying (about 6 to 8 cups)
  • 6 store-bought or homemade buttermilk waffles, for serving
  • Maple syrup, for serving
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Big pinch sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 6 to 8 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, plus 1 clove smashed
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red Thai chile pepper, finely minced (very hot, if sensitive use jalapeno or omit)
  • 1 fresh baguette, for serving
  • Parmesan, shaved, for serving


Step 1

For the popcorn chicken: Cut the chicken breasts into equal bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl, sprinkling with 1 teaspoon of the sea salt. Completely submerge the chicken in the buttermilk, and then cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.

Step 2

Combine the flour, remaining sea salt, cayenne, baking powder, onion powder, oregano, turmeric and lots of black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag and shake well.

Step 3

Heat oil in a large pot to 350 degrees F over medium heat. Transfer one-third of the chicken pieces from the marinade to the plastic bag with the flour using a slotted spoon and shaking off any excess liquid. Seal the bag and shake to coat well. Shake off any excess flour from the chicken and then carefully transfer to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, and then drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Step 4

For southern style: Serve the chicken over the waffles and smother in maple syrup.

Step 5

For italian style: Combine the tomatoes, olives, parsley, oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, basil, minced garlic, oregano and chile in a bowl and mix well. Let sit to allow the flavors to come together 30 minutes before serving.

Step 6

Cut the baguette into 6 equal pieces, and then halve each piece horizontally (as if making a sandwich). Hollow out the center of each piece with your hands and rub the surface of the bread with the smashed garlic and brush with olive oil. Grill or toast the bread until golden.

Step 7

Spoon some of the bruschetta mixture into the hollowed out grilled baguettes and top with popcorn chicken and large shavings of Parmesan.

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