Fried chicken. It’s pretty amazing stuff, right?
Unless you’re a vegetarian/vegan, in which case, you would not agree with me.
Or if you hate chicken.
Or if you hate fried food.
Hopefully my clear and detailed blog post title will weed out anyone with those preferences this time because this post is nothing short of decadent, deep fried goodness.
I am unapologetic.
There are a few tricks to preparing a good quality, deliciously crisp and juicy piece of fried chicken. Let’s go over them, shall we?
1.) Select a good quality chicken. Delicious fried chicken will never come from a crappy piece of raw chicken. Ever.
2.) Soak it in spices and/or a fermented dairy product. I decided last minute to skip the soaking process, and it showed. Soak it in buttermilk, or better yet, plain, (preferably raw) kefir. Water is fine, however, if you are off dairy. Soak with simple spices. We’ll get to that.
3.) You really don’t need white flour.
4.) Don’t use crappy vegetable/corn/”Monsanto” oils. Ever. For Anything. HERE’S WHY.
5.) Use cast iron or coated cast iron to cook it. Preferrably a dutch oven style with a lid.
Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures, but it was such an easy process that I am sure you can handle this. 🙂
Start with a good selection of chicken. I only did legs last night, because Grocery Outlet (The NW Fresno one, for locals) had organic, free range chicken legs for 2.39 per lb. Awesome deal. I love that store.
Take some buttermilk or kefir (just enough to cover your amount of chicken) and add:
1 tsp each:
paprika (this is how it turns a pretty golden color)
Let it soak for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to cook, take your chicken out and use your hands to strip excess liquid off of each piece. Just wipe each piece with your hand so that they are not dripping. Set aside on a plate. Wash your hands (Eww, raw chicken, I know) and prepare your flour. I use a combo of Trader Joe’s gluten free flour:
Season the flour with the same spices you used for the chicken, using 1/2 tsp of each. Dredge your chicken in the flour mixture, and set on a plate.
The trick to using gluten free flours for frying chicken is simple:
Leave it alone for a while after you dredge it. It needs to form a sort of paste as the flour soaks up the buttermilk or kefir. Oh, by the way, if you are dairy free, season the chicken as I stated earlier, skipping the dairy and using a bit of water to make the spices stick. You don’t need to cover the chicken as you do w/the dairy. Just use enough water to make it so that the spices stick to the bird. As long as the chicken is damp when you dredge it, you will not have a problem.
Once the coating on your chicken has become a bit wet and sticky, it is ready for frying. I find that it takes about an hour for the best results.
When you are ready to fry, prepare your oil. I used a combo of refined coconut oil and sunflower oil last night. I typically don’t use sunflower oil, but I didn’t have enough refined coconut oil and didn’t want to use unrefined and have it all taste like a tropical paradise.
You want about 2 inches of oil in your skillet or dutch oven. Please, please, please, do not use teflon for this. Heat your oil over medium heat until it reaches between 350-375 degrees (or so I have been told.) Confession: I never check the temp. When I sprinkle some flour over the oil, and it sizzles, that’s how I figure its ready to fry.
Precise, I am. 😛
Put a few pieces of chicken into the oil. Some of the flour will come off, yes, but all purpose does that too. Let it fry, making sure that its really *frying* with a good sizzle going. If the oil is not hot enough, it won’t get to sizzling right away and you will lose your coating in the oil. Put the lid on if you are using a dutch oven style pot. Leave it alone for about 10 minutes.
Come back, check the chicken, and turn it on the other side for another ten minutes.
Repeat this one more time, cooking for another ten or so minutes on the first side again. It really does take about 25-30 minutes for the legs to cook all the way through. The best way to tell your chicken is done? (Aside from a meat thermometer of course, which is probably the best, and most food-safety-appropriate way) The sizzling slows WAY down. You will hear your chicken start to go silent when its done. I always leave the lid off for the third rotation so I can “hear when it’s done.”
Use a meat thermometer if you are not sure.
If your chicken is browning too quickly, the heat is too high. Turn it down a bit. Cast iron does a great job of absorbing and maintaining even heat…sometimes too good. I find that by the middle of my 2nd batch, I have to turn the heat down. Pay attention and use common sense. 🙂
When they are done, pull them out CAREFULLY, and place them on a cooling rack placed over a plate to drain. Season with sea salt while they are hot. Serve with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob, fried okra and greens in a perfect world. In my (mostly) grain free, potato free, gravy free, fried okra free world, you serve them with roasted eggplant & heirloom tomatoes with lemon balm pesto:
It’s still not potatoes. Funny thing.
What do you eat YOUR fried chicken with? Besides a big smile, that is….