Monday, May 04, 2009

crispy and delicious: fried chicken

fry it up!

My friend wanted to make fried chicken for a party and I suggested a recipe from Cook's Illustrated (because I usually have good luck with their recipes), though I had never tried this one myself. I and all the party-goers thought the chicken was fantastic, but my friend was slightly annoyed by the fussiness of the recipe. So I tried the recipe myself, to endure the fussiness that I unwittingly inflicted on my trusting friend. Besides the strict brining/refrigerating schedule that dominates your whole day, the recipe didn't seem too fussy to me, no doubt because I've built up a fussiness tolerance through years of cooking with Cook's recipes.

Mine was good but not quite as wonderfully crispy as my friend's - I have the will but not the magic when it comes to cooking. But it was still very good, especially cold the next day on a picnic. My friends thought I was a little weird eating cold fried chicken, but where I come from, cold fried chicken is standard picnic fare. I'm definitely making this again soon.

the fussiness begins with three heads worth of garlic cloves that are smashed with the spices - at least I didn't have to peel them

here's the smashed mess

then you combine the garlic mess with 7 cups of buttermilk for the brine - it made me cringe to throw out 3.50sfr worth of buttermilk after the 2 hour brine, but I was afraid to skimp, throwing off the salt to liquid ratio

here's my dredging station: chicken, fresh buttermilk (not from the brine) +  egg, and flour

dredging is a messy business - fortunately, you can dredge everything and have it sit awhile before throwing it in the oil

I'm not afraid of eating fried food, but I'm still a little afraid of frying it - I made my husband drop the chicken pieces in

yummy juicy chicken sealed inside the crispy exterior

can't eat fried chicken without slaw and potatoes - even KFC knows that

Crispy Fried Chicken
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated

1. Cut up one whole chicken (about 3.5 pounds or 1.5 kilos) into 12 pieces.

2. In large zipper-lock plastic bag, combine:
    1.25 cups kosher salt or 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons table salt
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons paprika
    3 medium heads garlic , cloves separated
    3 bay leaves , crumbled

3. With flat meat pounder, smash garlic into salt and spice mixture thoroughly. Pour mixture into large plastic container. Add 7 cups buttermilk and stir until salt is completely dissolved. Immerse chicken and refrigerate until fully seasoned, 2 to 3 hours.

4. Remove chicken from buttermilk brine and shake off excess; place in single layer on large wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered for 2 hours. (After 2 hours, chicken can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 6 hours longer.) (Note: I've seen other recipes that brine overnight, so perhaps you can be more flexible with the brining schedule.)

5. In a large shallow dish, measure in 4 cups all-purpose flour (I used only 2 cups, which was more than enough).

6. In a medium bowl, combine
    1 egg, slightly beaten
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup buttermilk

7. One by one, drop chicken pieces in flour and shake pan to coat. Shake excess flour from each piece, then, using tongs, dip chicken pieces into egg mixture, turning to coat well and allowing excess to drip off. Coat chicken pieces with flour again, shake off excess, and return to wire rack.

8. To keep chicken warm after frying: Adjust oven rack to middle position, set second wire rack over second rimmed baking sheet, and place on oven rack; heat oven to 200 degrees.

9. Line large plate with double layer paper towels. Meanwhile, heat oil (oil should have 2 1/2-inch depth in pan) to 375 degrees over medium-high heat in large 8-quart cast-iron Dutch oven with a diameter of about 12 inches. Place half of chicken pieces skin-side down in oil, cover, reduce heat to medium, and fry until deep golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes; after about 3 minutes, lift chicken pieces with tongs to check for even browning; rearrange if some pieces are browning faster than others. (Spot-check oil temperature; after first 6 minutes of frying, oil should be about 325 degrees. Adjust burner if necessary.) Turn chicken pieces over and continue to fry, uncovered, until chicken pieces are deep golden brown on second side, 6 to 8 minutes longer.

(Note: I fried 6 mins on each side and this was definitely too long, the outside was too dark. I recommend checking the internal temp of the chicken and pulling it out early if it's at 180F/82C.)

Using tongs, transfer chicken to paper towel–lined plate; let stand 2 minutes to drain, then transfer to rack in warm oven. Replace paper towel–lining on plate. Return oil to 375 degrees and fry remaining pieces, transferring pieces to paper towel–lined plate to drain, then transferring to wire rack with other chicken pieces. Cool chicken pieces on wire rack about 5 minutes and serve.


Romy said...

Hi Tanya, I've been visiting your blog for a while and enjoy reading about your food and adventures! Your chicken looks delicious!


Alice said...

So whenever our ward had a potluck dinner there was always the family who brought a bucket of KFC fried chicken. My mother always gave us the look like, "go for the casseroles not the KFC." Anyhow I haven't had fried chicken FOREVER! This looks good:)

Tanya said...

Welcome Romy - I'm always happy to have more readers :)

Alice - you're missing out. Fried chicken is such a special treat!

Likes Chocolate said...

I think your chicken would pass here in the south. I have a question though about the pizza you made. When you cook it on the pizza stone did you use corn meal to keep it from sticking to the stone? I have always had a hard time keeping my pizza from sticking even using the meal. Kelleyn

Tanya said...

Hi "Likes Chocolate" - for pizza, I always roll the dough out on parchment paper and use a peel to slide it into the oven on the paper. Sometimes I remove the paper after a few minutes when the dough is set.

Jenna said...

The chicken looks yummy! I love cold fried chicken - sometimes more than hot - shhh! It does look very time consuming. With all that garlic and buttermilk it has got to be divine!

Likes chocolate a.k.a. Kelleyn :)

Jack said...

looks nice...I haven't had fried chicken like this in years - now, I have a sudden urge to eat NOW! Thanks for the push...

Food Dabbler said...

I suspect that your chicken was not as crisp as your friends because you left it in the flour mixture too long.
If it sits too long with the coating on it, it tends to get soggy.

And, did you ever get a Thermomix?

Tanya said...

Thanks for the tip Food Dabbler! I dredged all of my chicken before putting it in the oil. Next time I'll go straight from the flour to the oil.

I did not spring for the Thermomix. I just curse my stupid Kenwood Multipro food processor every day. Argh!

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