You can buy the best meat in the world but if you don’t know how to wrangle it, there’s not much point. Enter Meatsmith: Home Cooking for Friends and Family, the new cookbook from Andrew McConnell and Troy Wheeler, owners of premium Melbourne butcher Meatsmith. In it, they share more than 80 recipes all about doing justice to a good cut of meat regardless of whether it’s a side or the main event. This recipe, for a fried chicken burger, peels back the secrets behind achieving that crunchy exterior and juicy interior that’s often elusive for home cooks.

“Versions of this iconic sandwich are ridiculously popular all over the world and this is one of our bestsellers at Meatsmith,” write McConnell and Wheeler. “Do not forgo brining the chicken in buttermilk. It ensures you get the right ratio of soft and juicy at the core to the exterior’s crunchiness. Oh, and pay attention to your bun – soft and sweet is best (we like to use potato rolls). For this recipe, you will need to prepare your chicken one day in advance.”

Meatsmith’s fried chicken burger
Serves 6
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus at least 6 hours’ brining
Cooking time: 30 minutes

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Ingredients
1L vegetable or canola oil, for deep-frying
6 burger buns, split
Assorted dill pickles, sliced
Ranch dressing

Brined chicken
600ml buttermilk
4 eggs, whisked
50g table salt
10g smoked paprika
10g ground black pepper
10g ground cumin
10g ground fennel
6 large (approximately 250g each) skin-on boneless chicken thighs

Seasoned flour
200g plain flour
150g cornflour
17g baking powder
17g table salt
15g smoked paprika
15g ground black pepper
15g ground cumin
15g ground fennel

Chicken glaze
60ml water
75g caster sugar
100g glucose
50ml Tabasco sauce
50ml soy sauce
2 tsp maple syrup or pine syrup

Pinch of fennel pollen or fennel seeds

Method
To brine the chicken, combine the buttermilk, egg, salt and spices in a large container with a lid. Add the chicken, making sure it is completely submerged. Close or cover the container and set aside in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.

In the meantime, you can prepare the other components in advance.

To make the seasoned flour, combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

To make the chicken glaze, heat the water, sugar and glucose in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and mix in the remaining ingredients, then set aside to cool. The glaze can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

To cook the chicken and assemble the sandwich, heat the vegetable or canola oil in a large heavy-based saucepan until the temperature reaches 170°C or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15 seconds.

Place the seasoned flour in a bowl. Working in batches, remove 3 pieces of chicken from the brine, shaking off any excess, then coat in the seasoned flour, pushing down to cover completely. Add to pan and deep-fry for 5–8 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 70°C. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining chicken, allowing the oil to reheat to 170°C each time.

Toast the buns in the oven for a few minutes. Brush the fried chicken with the chicken glaze. Place 4–5 slices of pickle on the base of each bun and top with a piece of fried chicken. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing onto the fried chicken and top with the lid. Serve immediately.

This is an edited extract from Meatsmith by Andrew McConnell and Troy Wheeler published by Hardie Grant Books.