I consider myself a fairly advanced cook - but I CANNOT get fried chicken done right. I've tried the brining, the buttermilk soak, the seasoned flour - with a double dip in egg and not... and it still doesn't turn out right. Recipes say that the oil must stay at 350 degrees - which means you get nicely browned chicken and raw near the bone. Sticking into the oven to finish it up only ruins the coating.
I've used a Dutch Oven, a Lodge skillet and a Cuisinart electric frying pan.
WHAT is the secret?
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I consider myself a master fryer of: fish and chicken fried steak, especially, also shrimp, okra, onion rings, oysters adequate, but not chicken. I can't get it right. I fry in a cast iron skillet, but have my Grandmothers cast iron dutch oven. It seems as though, if I can recall correctly, she fried the chicken uncovered, and then covered it later. I know this is probably considered steaming at the end, but it is delicious. Next time I get up the nerve, I'll try it that way.
I don't make fried chicken that often, but when I do, I go the buttermilk soak route.
Other tips: Use small chicken pieces. Large ones don't do well.
Pan fry in shallow oil/shortening instead of deep frying.
I use a cast iron skillet.
After cooking the chicken in the pan, I have no problem whatsoever putting the pieces on a rack on a baking pan and keeping them hot in the oven. Doesn't ruin the coating and if any chicken hasn't fully cooked, it finishes it up.
The recipe I like to use came from Cooking at the Academy, California Culinary Academy
Buttermilk Pan Fried Chicken
1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated (dried) garlic
2 teaspoons cayenne powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
For pan frying: 2 cups solid vegetable shortening, or your oil of choice
1. Place the chicken in a shallow pan and cover with the buttermilk, cover and refrigerate 8 to 10 hours or overnight.
2. Mix seasoned flour ingredients together in a medium bowl. (I use a glass pie pan.)
3. Heat shortening or oil in a deep-sided heavy pan over medium heat between 325 and 340 degrees.
4. Remove chicken from buttermilk, shake off excess, reserving the buttermilk. Roll chicken in the flour and dip a second time into the buttermilk. Shake off excess buttermilk and roll again in seasoned flour. Set aside on cooling rack while repeating with the other pieces.
5. When oil is at the right temperature, lower the pieces into the hot oil carefully with tongs. The oil should cover no more than half the chicken. Make sure oil does not get too hot.
6. Cover the pan and fry for 8 to 10 minutes. Lift off cover, turn the chicken over with the tongs and fry uncovered for 25 minutes longer or until cooked through. Drain on paper towels before serving.
7. If making batches, chicken can be kept warm in oven.
Well, I grew up with a grandmother and mother who fried chicken, so I just kind of know how to do it. Nothing fancy, and no big secrets, I check the temp by dropping a little dab of flour in and seeing if it sizzles. One thing that might help is to look for a smaller chicken. Regular grocery store chickens have gotten bigger and bigger over the years, and the bigger pieces are harder to get done. Maybe that's obvious, and you've already tried it...