how to make fried chicken? help!
I've only made fried chicken twice, but both time used the Good Eats recipe (link below), and both times it turned out great. It's a little cumbersome, but if you set everything up in a neat little assembly line beforehand, it's not that bad. And it's really good stuff. Good luck!
First, unless you're confident you can do it, get a pre cut up chicken, or just use bone in breasts. The cutting of it can leave it unrecognizable if done wrong.
Second, I had the same hankering about a year ago, saw the scientific type guy on the food channel (soaking in buttermilk for 6 hours, yada yada), read all kinds of crazy recipes, tried to decipher, mainly went with the food channel method and I got... okay fried chicken. Way too much work for what I was getting though, and it just wasn't there.
I will stop here and say that the one thing you do need is a good well seasoned cast iron skillet with a splatter guard - but I had one from the very first try.
So then I spend a week with my grandfather, and one night he wants to cook fried chicken. Wala! - I'm going to watch!
Here's the thing - it's worked since the depression, and has worked for me like magic about once every month or two since last year.
Sift some flour into a bowl, maybe 1 cup per chicken. Add your seasonings and mix (pepper of course, can use garlic, paprika is a good one, I like some herbs - and I've never had anything burn like the food channel guy warned me about).
Run each piece quickly under running water, shake the excess off. Throw the piece into the flour, flip it around, put it on a plate (I'll come back to this in a second). Do this with all of them, put in the fridge for 15 minutes or so, you'll see that the flour gets a bit translucent. Flip them around again in the flour mix.
Now I do forget exactly the oil temp, but I think it's around 375. After you do it a bit, you do get the "feeling". Put them in there, let them go for 10-12 min or so. Flip, keep them in the same amount of time. Take them out. Big pieces leave a minute or two more, smaller ones, maybe a bit less. Big ones go in the center, small to the outside. Dark meat to the center, white to the outside. That's the general order of things. Rules of thumb.
Now back to the flouring - my grandfather flours the one time and throws them right into the pan - no plate. They come out just fine - maybe better. I'm still hung up on the breading thing but I'm sure I'll get over it.
Once you do this once and see, and especially once you get comfortable, fried chicken becomes a remarkably easy dish to prepare in well under an hour!
I've made fried chicken a few times using a couple of recipes from Martha Stewart. I preferred the last recipe that I used which is linked below. Chicken was very crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. This is a case where brining for a couple of hrs. def. helps and letting it set in the fridge is key for a crispy skin. I remember it being a tad salty so make sure to rinse off the brine well or go a tad lighter on the salt.
I made it for my brother-in-law's bday and served it with a zesty coleslaw, corn on the cob (this was summer), and buttermilk biscuits, I think. Good luck.
I've been frying chicken for over 30 years and it is not difficult. I do like to give my chicken pieces a bit if a soak in buttermilk, the acid helps tenderize the chicken a bit. No buttermilk on hand? How about some plain yogurt thinned with water or milk. I put that all in a zip lock bag with some Tobasco, salt, pepper, maybe some sliced garlic cloves or some Old Bay or Bell's. I usually do that in the AM and let it soak all day, but I have given it as little as an hour too. Season some all purpose flour with salt, pepper, and whatever else you would like. Put that in another bag. Heat oil in a heavy cast iron skillet to about 350 F. Oil should come half way up the sides of the pan. I always start with the dark meat. Drain it, place it in the seasoned flour shake well and in to the pan. You do not want it to brown too quickly so watch the heat. When browned on one side turn and brown on the other. Drain on a rack or brown paper bags. Paper towels tend to stick to the chicken. Keep warm in the oven until all chicken is cooked. You can drain off the fat and make some delicious cravy with the drippings in teh pan, either cream or brown.
The tricky part is keeping the oil hot enough so that the chicken doesn't turn out greasy, and yet not so hot that the crust burns before the inside is cooked through. I can usually accomplish this by bringing the oil up to 375, adding the chicken (be careful not to crowd--better to do it in batches, or use two pans than have a crowded pan), then lowering the heat to medium low, and covering the pan. After about 5 minutes I turn the pieces over and repeat, this time for about 3-4 minutes. Then I cook another minute or two uncovered. I use enough oil (lard, usually) to come about halfway up the pieces. Having burnt a few batches over the years, I now listen for a steady sizzling sound from under the lid (not a crackling sound, which indicates that the heat's too high), and I peek under the lid every few minutes just to make sure things are OK.
A cast iron pan is great. Often as not, I use an enameled cast iron pot.
As far as breading the chicken goes, I find that thick, goopy, breadcrumby crusts tend to burn and/or fall off. I just use buttermilk and seasoned flour. Or, if I don't have buttermilk, then milk with some lemon juice squeezed in. But just about anything tastes good.
I usually serve it with lemon or lime wedges.
Turn on the exhaust fan before you heat up the oil. My little apartment always smells like a Burger King days after I make fried chicken.
If I buy chicken parts instead of cutting up a whole chicken, I always buy thighs (never breasts, which I find too bland and squeaky to chew on). But that's a personal preference.
There are so many different ways to do it. I hope you can tease some useful information out of all these replies. Frying is kind of a tricky thing until you get the hang of it, requiring more than usual amounts of attention of the cook in order to achieve good results, let alone avoid disaster. Good luck!
Sounds like a few good other suggestions here, too. I think there's one in here I'll have to try outside of my grandpa's method. The cornmeal idea is fabulous - I'm doing fried breaded pork loin tonight so I should try similar on the chicken next time.
However, I wanted to add one thing just as an option. You don't have to bring the oil up half way in the pan. My Grandpa barely puts maybe an eighth of an inch in there. This is not going to be like Popeyes, but then again I think you need a deep fryer and something in your flour to get that. This is good homestyle fried chicken. Just another option to consider.
re: Dennis S
Yes, the frying part is a whole other ball of grease that can be debated. The method that is described in the recipe that I linked below worked beautifully for me.
I actually poured canola oil (instead of peanut) so that my submerged chicken would be a little more than half covered. Used a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. The method of covering it for the first 5 min. worked really well and helped to retain the heat once the chicken was placed in. The bit of cornmeal that is mixed w/ the flour coating enhanced the crispiness as well.
I have not read the other posts, but basically it's washing the chicken, dipping it in a water/milk/egg mix and then in a flour/spice mix (salt/pepper/garlic/paprika, etc) and frying at 350-370 degrees until done.
Alternately, you can use a "wet" mix with the flur mixed with club soda or other liquid. This gives it a lighter coating.
Now, perfecting all the ingredients and ratios and cook time, etc...that's the tough part!
So the fried chicken went well, thanks to all your suggestions! THANKS!
My only mistake was that the pieces of chicken were a little too big. I should've cut them in half.
Other than that, the buttermilk and hot sauce mixture was great, the flour/cormeal/garlic/onion mixture mixture was fantastic.
THanks again! I might try it on some fish sometime...