As Kiwis enter week five of almost total lockdown everyone is missing something.
Some people might miss their friends or their families, others miss the bustling atmosphere of a busy cafe at Sunday brunch.
I miss those things but I also really, really miss KFC chicken and its iconic potato and gravy - so I decided to recreate it in the kitchen of my Wellington flat.
The first thing I did was peel and chop three large potatoes for my potato and gravy. While those were boiling in a large saucepan over medium heat, I assembled my chicken seasoning mix.
Here is where the substitutions come in:
- I could not find celery salt anywhere so I used a random "chicken seasoning" herb and spice blend I found in the back of the cupboard.
- I couldn't find dry, powdered brown ginger so I just used grated root ginger.
- I ran out of paprika halfway through so substituted the last tablespoon for smoked paprika and I only had half the amount of garlic powder that I needed - but apart from that, it was perfect.
Once all my herbs and spices were assembled I added them to three cups of plain flour and half a cup of self-raising flour.
Then I put four boneless chicken thighs in the mix and coated them fully in the seasoning.
Once coated I popped them in a dredge made from the white of two eggs and a splash of milk.
After they were fully dredged I put them back in the flour and got my oil ready.
The recipe specifically calls for a deep fryer. I have never trusted myself to own a deep fryer because I would use and abuse it so whenever I want something greasy, I just use a deep pot and oil suited to frying - like canola (which I didn't have).
I used a mix of grapeseed oil and some random "salad oil" I found in the back of the cupboard. Into the large pot the chicken went over a medium heat.
At this point, my potatoes are almost boiled over so I took them off the heat and mashed them with a generous amount of butter and a small splash of milk.
Then it was gravy time. Into a small saucepan over a medium heat went about two tablespoons of butter and the same amount of flour. As the butter melted I whisked the flour through it until it resembled wet sand.
I added 300ml of water to one beef stock cube and one chicken stock cube and whisked it into my butter and flour mixture, whisking quickly and constantly to get rid of any lumps.
It was still lumpy despite my efforts so I added a splash more boiling water and whisked again then lowered the heat right down.
My oil was shimmering at this point and I knew it was frying time. The recipe calls for oil which is between 160C and 165C - I have no idea how hot my oil was but I threw caution to the wind and put the chicken in any way.
I fried the chicken for five minutes - turning them over halfway through because I didn't have enough oil to cover them - and then removed and put in the oven to keep warm while I plated up my potato and gravy.
Once my plates were ready I put the chicken back in the oil for 90 seconds then served it to my incredibly grateful flatmates.
The general consensus was it was "better than KFC", and "a solid 8.5" which, given the amount of random substitutions I had to make, I'm pretty stoked with.
The potato and gravy, in my opinion, was absolutely out of this world and I am 100 percent going to make it again as soon as I get the chance.
All in all, I found that as unattainable as KFC may seem it is possible to get something just as good in the comfort of your own home - it just takes a bit of extra time, which let's be honest, we all have now.