Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Foodblogging - Fried Chicken

#1 son loves fried chicken (OK, OK, we all do), and since he's home, I'm fixin' to fix it. Pan fried, not deep fried.

I like to cut up a whole chicken, because it's surprisingly easy to do this, and we find two-for-one sales on whole chicken a fair amount. Makes for a cheap and yummy dinner. It's a twofer!

The most important thing about fried chicken is the crust, and the most important thing about the crust is preparation. The chicken pieces needs at least an hour soak in buttermilk, which will give it a slightly slimy coating - do not skip this step, or Col Sanders will kick herbs and spice in your face.

BTW, you don't need to keep buttermilk around - add a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar to a quart of regular milk, and you'll be set. Yes, you'll get a little curdling, but don't sweat it. When you're done with the soak, the dogs will thank you for the icky, raw chickeny milk.

Take the chicken out of the milk (I just shake it off and stack it on a plate). This is the best time to season it, because it's a little slimy, and the sliminess will keep the seasoning on the chicken when it fries. The dredge will de-slime the pieces, so don't worry.

I like combination of Old Bay (just about my favorite spice), sweet paprika, and hot paprika. You want the chicken pieces completely coated with spice, but the mix of sweet/hot is something you'll want to adjust for your own taste. If you don't like Old Bay, you will need something with salt, as salting the pieces after they fry just hasn't worked well for me.

Once seasoned, dredge in flour - this is where the slime coating turns into yummy coating in waiting.

Important: Let the chicken rest on a cooling rack for 30 minutes while you heat the oil. This lets the coating harden somewhat, and you'll get a much better crust.

Now here's the heresy: I don't really care if you use shortening or oil to fry in. I find oil is easier, and some people think that used Crisco is icky. The oil should only come half way up the chicken, so you're probably talking a little over a finger's width of oil. We're pan frying, not deep frying.

Fry at 350 degrees for around ten minutes per side, flipping once. Remember, even with a good cast iron skillet, you'll have a hot spot in the middle. This hot spot is where you should fry the thighs (dark meat will put the extra heat to good use). You'll see moisture pooling on the top of the pieces as they fry - this "sweat" is a good thing, IOW, it's no sweat. The pieces in the middle will have a dark spot in the crust - dark is what you want; black is too much of a good thing.

Interestingly, my chicken is the best in the house, chez Borepatch. However, my biscuits would make a strong man cry.

Update 26 August 2008 19:26: It's best to check the chicken after 8 minutes. Mine was dark (yum!), not black (not yum), but ten minutes might have landed us smack in non-yum land.

1 comment:

Hammer said...

Thanks for the butter milk tip. I'll try it.

Since I cook a ton of chicken at one time I rinse the raw chicken with warm water and take a gallon ziplock 1/4 of seasoned flour and shake the chicken in the bag and let it rest in there while the deep fryer is heating then I shake it again right before cooking.

As soon as I get a pan large enough I'll try your method.