Fried Chicken---Deep Fryer or Cast Iron Skillet
I am considering making fried chicken as part of an Easter Brunch menu and I am wondering if it is better to use deep fryer or cast iron skillet? Will the texture/flavor/crunch differ? Any thoughts?
Agreed, cast iron dutch oven. Anyway, if you don't have one, it's a multi-tasker.
There are cast iron single-handled "chicken fryers" with lids on the market, anywhere from around 3-5 qts., but I never thought they were adequately deep enough. They are meant more for frying in one layer, as Karl S describes upthread. A dutch oven with two side handles is deeper by inches, very good for deep frying and is generally more versatile.
Never had properly battered or breaded chicken lose it's coating in a deep fryer, FWIW.
That's really a toss-up. I fry it both ways, either in a large 14" cast iron skillet or a large cast iron Dutch oven. Both work equally well. If you want to make gravy, I'd suggest the skillet. I think the secret is to triple dip the seasoned chicken pieces, first in flour, then in an egg wash, and finally in a seasoned flour such as Drakes or Kentucky Kernel. After that, let it rest for at least 20 minutes before frying. That will ensure that the breading will stick to the chicken. 350 degrees it the ideal temp for either method. Good luck!
Cast iron is my weapon of choice whether deep frying or pan frying...Both produce excellent Fried Chicken...All things being equal you should not notice any appreciable difference in texture/flavor/crunch....Never had batter to blow off (on chicken) in a deep fryer....Possibly because I don't batter chicken.
My personal preference is to start with dry chicken, coated in seasoned flour...allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes...and lightly coat with seasoned flour again just prior to frying......HTH.
Skillet. You want the ability to cover it on the first side down and uncover for the second side. If the chicken is immersed too deeply, the steam from the chicken is more likely the blast through the batter on all sides.
The best device (though not for making gravy from pan drippings) is a big electric skillet, where you can get very event control of temperature and have plenty of room to prevent crowding (which is bad for fried chicken).