Fusilli Bucati With Pesto And KFC-Style Chicken Leg

Fusilli pasta with pesto and KFC-style fried chicken

Our job is to get you excited about pesto, but let's be honest, you're really thinking about the chicken, right?

We once had an acquaintance who accidentally left his shift at KFC with some of the colonel's secret blend of 11 herbs and spices in his pocket. He got some free-range chicken legs, seasoned them, soaked them overnight in buttermilk, and deep-fried them the next day in a mix of flour and KFC spices.

The results were biblical.

There's no need to break the law these days, though. Just search online, and you'll find plenty of recipes from people who claim to have unlocked the secrets to the colonel's mythical coating. (Hint: MSG).

KFC-style spice blend

Recommended equipment
Digital kitchen scales
Spice grinder

Pro tip
Below is our take on Sanders' spice blend, but rustle together any dried herbs and spices, and you'll find it pretty hard to not create something finger-licking good.

Ingredients for the spice blend

MSG 5g
Paprika 2g
Mustard powder 2g
Salt 2g
Onion powder 2g
Garlic powder 2g
Dried oregano 1g
Dried sage 1g
Dried thyme 1g
Dried marjoram 1g
Pepper 1g

KFC-style herb and spice blend

Flour and spice mix

00 flour 75
Panko breadcrumbs 25
Spice blend 20 (from above)
Muscovado 10

Ingredients for two

Recommended equipment
Digital thermometer
Deep fryer

Pro tip
No buttermilk? No cry. You can make your own using nothing other than whole milk and lemon (or any mild acid, really). There are plenty of recipes online.

Chicken legs x2
Buttermilk 500g
Fusilli bucati 150g
Pesto 100g
Canola oil 1l
Seasoning as needed
Flour-spice mix from above
Garnishes optional

If you're butchering a whole chicken, then make sure to cut out the "oysters" along with the leg. It's our favourite part of the bird. If you're buying chicken legs, you can use them straight from the pack, but we highly recommend "Frenching" them.

There are plenty of videos on YouTube describing the technique, but you basically expose the tip of the bone, which adds a bit of theatre. This also allows you to pull out the stringy tendons with a pair of pliers, which increases the eating pleasure significantly.

Season the legs with salt and pepper and marinate them in buttermilk for at least one hour, but preferably overnight.

Mix your spice rub with the flour, breadcrumbs, and sugar.

Take your chicken legs out of the buttermilk marinade, and allow the excess to drip off. Keep the rest of the marinade as it's got one more job to do before it can be discarded.

Now dunk your chicken leg in the spiced flour, followed by the reserved buttermilk marinade, followed by a final dip in the flour.

Heat your oil in either a deep-fat fryer or wok (we don’t recommend saucepans from a safety point of view). When the oil reaches 175°C and starts to shimmer, add the chicken legs. Chilled food can drop the temperature of the oil significantly, so watch it like a hawk. If the temperature drops too low, the food will turn out greasy. Too hot, and the crispy skin will be cooked, but the inside could still be raw.

Cook your chicken until the innermost part registers 75°C, about 5-6 minutes on both sides. Transfer the chicken to a rack to let excess oil drip off and keep warm in a 100°C oven while you deal with the pasta.

Heat up a pan of well-salted water and cook your pasta according to the pack instructions. When the pasta is al dente, drain it (saving a little bit of the water it cooked in), then, off the heat, stir through the pesto and pasta water.

Plate up and garnish to your liking. Here, we've used aged pecorino, chives, wild garlic flowers, and a few cracks of black pepper.