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Fried Chicken: Better done in cast iron on stovetop, or deep fried?

  • coll Jan 27, 2013 04:34 AM

I have always fried my chicken on the stove, flipping half way through, even though I have a great electric deep fryer and fry everything else in there. Gonna fry me up a batch of chicken tonight, mostly to use up some excess buttermilk I have on hand, and thinking it would be so much easier to just toss it in the fryer. But I feel like I tried that once and they didn't come out as good. I just switched from Melfry to peanut oil, so maybe that will make a difference? It's been a long time and I'd like this meal to be special.

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  1. It's not that one way or the other is "better," just different:

    In the deep-fryer you may capture more moisture 'cause the entire surface area of each piece is cooked at once. The browning will be even and an electric fryer self-regulates temperature, so it's easier than having to watch the fire under the skillet.

    The skillet is my fave way to fry chicken, however, 'cause the browning is, by nature, uneven. It's always a bit crispier where the pieces contact the skillet. Love those darker-done parts, esp. on thighs. The skillet also accumulates those nice browned bits, some of which remain on the chicken, and add flavor.

    Good luck! I hope your meal is indeed very special!

    2 Replies
    1. re: shaogo

      Thanks, I had a feeling the pan frying was superior, but didn't know the reasons why. I know exactly what you mean.

      1. re: shaogo

        (Thanks. Thoughtful answer with a lot of data points I can agree with.)

      2. coll, you're doing it the way chicken should be done, imo! I think that there is no comparison between a pan fried chicken and a deep fried one!

        1. I'm partial to using my Dutch oven on the stove top or the turkey frier out back (when I'm doing a lot).

          1. And now that you've determined your chicken method, are you gonna make some fresh cole slaw and fluffy mashed potatoes to go with that there chicken?

            10 Replies
            1. re: shaogo

              Thanks Roxlet, I knew I tried deep frying once and something just wasn't right. Thought it might be me. And MGZ, the Dutch oven is a great idea, that should take care of most of the mess. The high sides don't affect it, crispiness wise, though? I thought it had to be a shallow pan, but would love an easy cleanup.

              Hmmm, I was going with some kind of potatoes, but something baked to a crisp like Crash Hots or Greek Lemon with feta. If I run out of time, mashed would be awesome but that is too everyday for a special meal; if it was any warmer out, I might go with potato salad. Right now I have corn pudding planned, the last of the kernals stashed from the summer. No cabbage on hand but I do have to get some for my fish tacos later this week, and hopefully there will be some leftover chicken in our future!

              1. re: coll

                Oh, coll, could you provide a link to your corn pudding recipe?

                I had a good one and lost it and I've tried several times to make it from memory -- and each one really didn't come out well at all (drippy, too sweet, not cohesive).

                1. re: shaogo

                  No link, I got this recipe out of the local paper in the 1970s-80s, a family favorite on the East End of Long Island (what family is lost in time). I have jazzed it up a bit since then, but the main beauty is cooking in in a water bath, and using local corn that is saved from the last harvest. It's very custardy.

                  CORN PUDDING

                  2 cups corn kernals

                  2 cups milk

                  2 Tbsp cornstarch

                  3 eggs, well beaten

                  1 tsp maple syrup (or sugar or similar)

                  1 tsp salt

                  large dash of rum, preferably spiced Capt Morgan

                  butter or bacon fat, to wipe sides of pan

                  Stir together: corn, milk, corn starch, eggs, maple syrup and salt unitl mixed. Pour into pregreased 1.5 qt casserole and place in larger pan with one inch of hot water. Bake at 350 for one hour.

                  1. re: coll

                    So the slug of Capt Morgan is for the cook?? :)

                    1. re: pine time

                      One for the pot, two for the cook!

                      1. re: coll

                        Hmmm - never seen a corn pudding recipe with liquor in it - and Captain Morgan's is my favorite. Will have to give this a try! Thanks!

                        1. re: Jeanne

                          It may have called for vanilla extract or something like that, but it's a Thanksgiving recipe and I put rum or bourbon in almost every dish...my own little tradition!

                    2. re: coll

                      Thanks ever so much! The one I've been playing around with has, like, 1/4 cup of brown sugar in it; and a couple of cans of evaporated milk. But I'll try this recipe if only because it's quite different from any others I've tried (what's not to love about maple syrup, rum, and bacon fat!!!)

                  2. re: coll

                    "...mashed would be awesome but that is too everyday for a special meal"

                    I find that funny because mashed taters are definitely a special occassion meal in my house. We do roasted a couple times a week, but mashed only two or three times a year. I find them to be a pain.

                    1. re: Christina D

                      They ARE a pain but my husband is not a potato lover, he mostly likes fries which I tend to avoid. Thank goodness for Nathan's crinkle cuts. Mashed is second on his list, and believe it or not, he seems to prefer instant to fresh. If I don't feel like partaking, I will make him instant and he's perfectly happy. The way I like them is of course from scratch and a lot of work, but worth it when I'm in the mood.

                2. You probably don't want to go to the bother but here's another suggestion: 'SV' the chicken parts. When they have cooled to room temp dip them in a light batter then into the deep fryer. In a couple of minutes you'll have some pretty amazing crispy golden fried chicken.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Puffin3

                    Not sure what SV is (sous vide I'm guessing), but definitely will let the chicken come to room temp either way. I am so bad with abbreviations.

                  2. Thanks everyone, the chicken came out awesome. I have to put this back in my rotation!

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: coll

                      Maybe I missed it, but did you deep fry? To me good fried chicken needs that buttermilk bath and some over spiced flour. I s'pose the side dishes are driven more by the coating than what's inside it.

                      Corn pudding is something I've never eaten, much less made. I'm gonna have to try you're recipe - thanks - it looks like a dish the Mrs. would dig. I'm no fan of Captain Morgan's - but it's always good to have an excuse to bring some rum into the house. I'd bet bourbon would work great too.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        No I pan fried the chicken. I haven't made it in so long because last time I deep fried it and thought I had lost my touch, turns out it was just the deep frying that ruined it. Whew!

                        The corn pudding is so different and so good, it's a savory custard and makes a nice presentation. I highly recommend the Capt Morgan, but as I said I think vanilla would be what most would use.

                        1. re: coll

                          I bet that pudding would work well with barbecue too. Might have to be the way we try it.

                          1. re: coll

                            Coll - I may try this dish as a part of my contribution to a Super Bowl party (I think the hosts want me to make barbecue, didn't say it, but it was certainly implied). Can I use previously frozen, thawed kernals, or should I wait to try it this summer when the Jersey corn is ripe?

                            1. re: MGZ

                              No, it's got lots of levels of flavors, and beside for Superbowl, who's sitting there looking for nuances? It will be fine! I used to always make it with frozen, until I realized the coolness of saving some from the farm in the fall. Just thaw it out before you begin, which you already know. Then make it again with local corn later in the year and compare.

                          2. re: MGZ

                            The key to the preparation!!! I love the way you express it:

                            "that buttermilk bath and some over spiced flour"

                            You hit the nail on the head.

                            The late Sylvia Woods, of Sylvia's restaurant in New York City, would bathe, then flour, then dip then flour again (no eggs involved) -- but then she'd let the flour-coated chicken sit on a sheet pan in a warm place (next to where she'd proof the biscuits) so the outside would actually dry out. Some people are squeamish about leaving chicken out at room temp for the required hour but chicken done this way is sinfully crispy outside and moist inside!

                            1. re: shaogo

                              "The late Sylvia Woods, of Sylvia's restaurant in New York City, would bathe, then flour, then dip then flour again (no eggs involved) -- but then she'd let the flour-coated chicken sit on a sheet pan in a warm place (next to where she'd proof the biscuits) so the outside would actually dry out."

                              Exactly.

                        2. It just occurred to me, if you're a Chowhound of a certain age (like me) you might have one of those big old electric skillets somewhere in the house. I parted with mine only after the cord caught fire and I gave up.

                          The electric skillet solves the problem of having to monitor the fire so it's one less thing to worry about during this busy, messy (but delicious) process.