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How-to: Fry chicken

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I couldn’t wait to post this how-to on frying chicken.  I know a lot of people don’t like to fry chicken. I get it,  the mess, the grease, what  to do with the grease. How do I know the chicken is done?  Did I season it well enough?   This post will answer all those questions and more so I can get you to frying some chicken.

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Why fry chicken? Because fried chicken is delicious.  Hot moist meat with a crispy coating.  We all know fried food is good but fried chicken is the best.  So roast and bake your chicken most of the time but every once in a while treat yourself to some home fried chicken.

So let’s get right to it. Here is what you’ll need and need to know in order to fry the best chicken ever.

NOTE: my suggestion is start with 1 whole chicken cut up into 10 pieces.  If you are doing more it is best to use 2 pans.

The chicken. The best chicken for home frying is a small bird between 3 1/2 and 4 pounds.  Cut your chicken into 10 pieces; 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 breasts.  Each of the breast should be cut in 1/2 for a total of 10 pieces.  If you purchase a chicken already cut up that’s fine too just know that sometimes they are from larger birds.  Try to get a whole chicken from your butcher and have him cut it up.

The Brine. Brining allows you to add flavor to your chicken before you fry it  and ensures you will have juicy meat.  Do you have to brine?  Yes I recommend brining .  It’s not a hard task just a matter of adding water and seasoning to a container and letting your chicken sit in it overnight.   I use a simple mixture of 3 quarts cold water and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.  You may add cayenne pepper to your water. Some people add fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs as well as other herbs and whole spices. You can even add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar.  What about buttermilk? I don’t generally let my chicken sit in just buttermilk.  Sometimes I add a cup  to my water and salt mixture,removing the same amount of water.  If you do use all buttermilk I recommend that you rinse it all off after the overnight sit and before you fry. Generally 2 cups of buttermilk is used for 1 cut up chicken.  Use a rectangular container that will hold the chicken in one layer.  Rubbermaid has good plastic ones with lids.

The flour.  Use plain all-purpose flour.  You can mix in  1/2 teaspoon each of your favorite dry seasonings like paprika, season salt, garlic powder, onion powder or cayenne powder.

The oil. Use  vegetable oil.  The temperature of the oil should be at 350 degrees. Chicken gets greasy when placed in oil that is not hot enough. This is the secret to good fried chicken-hot oil.  So invest in a thermometer.  They are not that expensive.  Also when 1 batch of chicken is removed let the oil heat back up a few minutes.  Don’t immediately put in the next batch because the oil will have cooled down.

The pan.  A good heavy bottomed straight sided pan.  Preferably cast iron.  Quality pans are good conductors of heat and a cast iron pan is the best.  They hold the pans temperature at a steady even heat so you won’t have some hot spots and some warmer spots which make your chicken cook unevenly.  A cast iron pan is an excellent investment and not very expensive.

The frying.  Make sure your chicken has been patted dry after removing from brine and rinsing. You can salt and pepper the pieces at this time.   If you use a chicken cut into 10 pieces and a 12 inch pan you can fry your chicken in only 2 batches.  Start with the dark meat-the 2 thighs and 2 legs.  They take the longest to fry about 8-10 minutes per side. Next fry the white meat, 2 wings and 2 breasts each breast cut into 2 pieces for a total of 6 pieces.   If your pan is large enough you can fry all six pieces at once.  If not fry 4 and do the other 2 after.  White meat should fry 6-8 minutes per side.  Before removing each piece of chicken you can drain it on paper towels or just give it a gentle shake over the pan to let the excess grease fall back in.  Do not overcrowd the pan.  Fry only 4-6 pieces of chicken at a time depending on the size of your pan.  Now here is a hint I was taught by my dad who learned from my mom,  put the fried pieces of chicken in an oven set at 300 degrees.  For those of you afraid you may not have cooked your chicken all the way through this will ease some of your worry.  Your chicken won’t be  dry because you brined it the night before. That being said you need to have a rack placed inside of a  half sheet pan in the oven.  After the first batch is taken out be sure to bring your oil back up to temperature so the next batch can fry in hot oil.  Remove chicken with long metal tongs.  Do not  use a fork because poking will puncture the meat and release juices which will splatter when it hits the hot oil.  After each batch is fried and drained place on the rack in the oven.

To cover or not to cover?  Covering your pan of frying chicken simply stops the oil  from splattering all over you and the counter.  I don’t cover.  You may do so if you wish.

What to do with the oil.  You can use the drained oil again.  Let the oil cool completely then drain to remove the burned bits.  Pour into a glass container with a top and store in the fridge.  If you are disposing of the oil let it cool completely.  Pour into a plastic container with a lid.  Large yogurt containers work well or chinese soup containers. Tape the lid shut and place inside a plastic grocery bag and put in the garbage.

What else you need to know.  Have the proper tools for the job.  Cooking relies on the proper equipment.  I’ve mentioned that you need a cast iron pan, a thermometer, a rack and a half sheet pan and long metal tongs.   All good inexpensive investments.  You will use them over and over in your cooking.

 

Crispy Fried Chicken

The recipe and method:

1 3 1/2 4 pound chicken cut into 10 pieces

3 quarts of cold water

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

assorted dried seasonings

salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups vegetable oil

The day before- Make brine and place cut up chicken in brine. Cover and refrigerate overnight and up to 24 hours.

The day of frying-Drain the chicken in a colander and rinse well.  Pat dry and let the chicken come to room temperature.

Place 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil in a large cast iron pan and heat over medium-high heat until 350 degrees. Check with a thermometer.

Heat oven to 300 degrees and put a rack placed over a half sheet pan into the oven.

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper or seasoning salt.

Put 2 cups of flour in a large grocery store paper bag.  Add any dry seasonings and shake well to combine.  Add chicken pieces and shake vigorously to make sure all pieces coated with flour.

When oil reaches 350 degrees remove dark meat from flour and shake off excess.  Place in hot oil and cook 8-10 minutes per side.  Drain off excess fat and place on rack in oven.

Bring oil back up to 350 degrees, remove white meat chicken from bag and shake off excess flour.  Fry 6-8 minutes per side.  Drain and place on rack in oven.

Continue frying this way until all chicken fried. 

When all chicken done and placed on rack in oven let remain in oven another 5 minute then remove to platter and serve.

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3 responses »

  1. I Love This Recipe!! Thanks for blogging about this. Usually 1 batch of my chicken is messed up and it is usually the last…ugghh. What happened to the pics. You know I am a visual learner..lolol Thanks again

    Reply

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