Battered deep-fried chicken is a great favourite with children, who are never happier than when fed from a high-street fast-food outlet. The late Colonel Sanders’ batter recipe is a trade secret, just like the formula for Coke or Heinz baked beans. However, this recipe for deep-fried chicken in a herbed batter should please the most discerning young palate, especially when served in striped boxes to be eaten with their fingers. Battered chicken is Michael Jackson’s favourite food, which he always demands when he stays at the Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner, so a parent entering into the spirit of things could add to the sense of occasion by providing the children with black surgical masks to don afterwards.
The day before, remove the skin from the chicken thighs and cut out the bones (see Kentish Pudding). Put the boned thighs in a dish, add the garlic, pour over the lemon juice and toss to coat. Cling-wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, remove the chicken from the fridge well ahead to allow it to come to room temperature before cooking.
Make the batter: in a bowl, mix the flour, eggs, light ale or lager, olive oil, salt oregano, chilli flakes if you like, and black pepper. Whisk until smooth and leave to stand for 1 hour at room temperature.
Heat oil for deep-frying to 190°C/ 375°F and stir the batter. Wipe the marinade from the chicken and pat dry with kitchen paper, then coat in the batter. Fry the chicken in 2 batches, for about 8 minutes each, turning once. Keep the first batch warm while you cook the second lot. Remove and transfer each batch to kitchen paper to drain, returning the first batch for a minute to recrisp after you have cooked the second.
Serve with lemon wedges. Oh, all right then, tomato ketchup.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.