I’ve been thinking a lot about fried chicken lately. I haven’t made it in ages, it has always been one of my favorite things to eat, but not just any fried chicken will do. There is a certain finesse to making chicken right, you’ve got to pay attention to the details, like maintaining a constant temperature of the oil, and of course the quality of the chicken is a big deal too. Its hard to find really good chicken, you know, the organic, free-range type. When I do find it, it’s skinless and boneless, two flaws that are fatal in my opinion. Fried chicken with out the crispy skin? No bone to nibble on? No thanks.
My preference has always been for bone in thighs, The breast gets too dry. The wings and legs are good, backs not so much.
Do you think I am kidding about the details of frying chicken? I mean, you just batter it and fry it, right? Absolutely not! Here are a few of the finer details.
- The chicken should be allowed to come to room temperature. Dropping cold chicken into hot oil will drop the temperature dramatically. Oil that isn’t hot enough makes for greasy, soggy chicken.
- The batter: flour, milk, or cream, along with a well whipped egg. But you have got to season at every step: the flour should be seasoned, and the egg dip should be too. I use lots of freshly ground black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes.
- My mother always used disassembled brown paper sacks to work on, and I know it sounds strange, but I think it matters.
- Make sure to have the oil in a large pot, with a thermometer to make sure the oil stays constant. The more oil you have, the easier it is to maintain the temp. Never, never, never fill the pot more than half full of oil. You are courting a fiery disaster if you do. Oil fires are seriously dangerous. The recommended temp for frying varies from 300 to 350, and I like it in the middle, maybe 320 or 325.
- Lay the chicken out and season aggressively.
- Some people like to marinade the chicken in the egg batter, and I think it is a good idea, but not necessary.
- Remove a piece of chicken from the wash, give it a shake to get rid of the extra wash, then roll it in the seasoned flour (The pros know that you use one hand for the wash, and the other hand for the flour). If you want an extra thick crust, repeat the process.
- Drop a few pieces of chicken at a time into the oil, fry until golden brown, remove and drain on the brown paper sacks or paper towels.
- Lastly make a pan gravy, which really is a roux made into a gravy or sauce. Using the drippings from the oil (strain it, but leave a little oil), add to a pan, along with a few tablespoons of flour, stir and brown slightly, then whisk in 2 cups of milk. Whisk until it is not lumpy. Make sure to taste, just to make sure it does not taste like flour (which means it has not cooked long enough).
- That’s it! Also, good when served with mashed potatoes, but for some reason my favorite is mac and cheese! I’ve been thinking a lot about fried chicken lately. I haven’t made it in ages, it has always been one of my favorite things to eat, but not just any fried chicken will do.