Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Frying Chicken

Fried chicken is one of those super-comfort foods that can instantly make you feel warm and loved. I love making it on cold, rainy days alongside macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes (hello carbs!). The crust on the chicken is crunchy and flavorful, and the chicken beneath is juicy and tender. Perfectly fried chicken is one of those great weapons to have in your cooking arsenal. It just takes an understanding of a few easy techniques and some patience. Before long, you will be a fried chicken pro!
1. Brine your chicken
This step will ensure that your chicken is tender and juicy instead of dry and tasteless. A few hours before you will cook it, let the chicken soak in a combination of water and kosher salt (2 cups water to 1/4 cup salt). Search "brining" in the sidebar for more information on this process.
2. Season your chicken
Season your chicken liberally with salt and pepper before dredging. Seasoning at each step of the cooking process will give you a flavorful bite every time.
3. Season your dredging flour and liquid
I use a three step dredging method. First, season all-purpose flour with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Next, whisk two eggs, a splash of milk and 2 tbsp. hot sauce in a separate bowl. Finally, make a third bowl with the same ingredients as the first (salt, pepper, garlic powder). Form an assembly line and dredge your chicken in each of the bowls before frying.
4. Properly dredge your chicken
Make sure that you are completely coating the chicken in each of the three dredging mixtures. This is what's going to get you that beautiful, golden brown crust.
5. Watch your temperature
Shoot for 350 degrees. Stick the tip of a wooden spoon in your oil to gauge the temperature. If bubbles form around the tip, you are ready to fry.
6. Select the right oil
I prefer to fry my chicken in vegetable oil. It imparts a nice flavor without the heaviness of other oils like peanut.
7. Don't overcrowd the frying pan
Make sure to space out your chicken in the frying pan. If you overcrowd the pan, you will lower the heat of the oil and cause the chicken to steam instead of fry.
7. Give it time
For the chicken to cook all the way through, you need to be patient. Typically it takes me about 20 minutes to completely fry a thick breast. The juices should run completely clear when your chicken is thoroughly cooked.
8. Let it rest
Like any other meat, fried chicken should rest for a few minutes so that all the juices don't run out onto the plate. Remove your chicken from the oil onto paper towels and give it a few minutes before serving.

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