On Sunday morning, Paul woke up and announced he’d had a dream about fried chicken. I tried to ascertain if the dream was about eating fried chicken or cooking fried chicken but he couldn’t quite remember. It got me thinking of Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis, TN where the closely guarded recipe is described as “having a little of this, a touch of that, a pinch of love, a dash of hot. Once in a while it’ll be so spicy the tears come. Usually, the heat is more gentle, like the touch of an old friend.”As luck would have it I’d just gotten my copy of the amazing cookbook “The Food Lab” by J. Kenji López-Alt and it had a whole section on the science behind fried chicken. One of the many genius tips in The Food Lab book is simultaneously brining and marinating the chicken in a buttermilk/spice mix.
3 tbsp paprika Equipment: tongs, cooling rack and baking sheet, dutch oven (or wok or cast iron chicken fryer) ©Mainely Eating http://www.MainelyEating.com
Crispy Southern Fried Chicken
Adapted from J.Kenji López-Alt’s The Food Lab with a little Southern Living cooking method thrown in
3 tbsp black pepper
3 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp dried oregano
1.5tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot!)
2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
5 tbsp salt
~6lbs chicken (your preference on cut), we had 3 chicken breasts and 6 legs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1.5 tsp baking powder
One of those large bottle of vegetable or peanut oil (48oz)
Whole chicken – separate into breasts, thighs and drumsticks
Legs – separate into thighs and drumsticks
Breasts – cut into two pieces (smaller piece allows it to cook through without the crust burning)
3 tbsp paprika
Equipment: tongs, cooling rack and baking sheet, dutch oven (or wok or cast iron chicken fryer)
©Mainely Eating http://www.MainelyEating.com
- Double dipping is ok! If you like a thicker crust, once you’ve coated the chicken in the flour/spice mix, dip it back in the marinade and then back into the flour/spice mix.
- You can leave the skin on the chicken or remove it. I like to remove the skin on my pieces, Paul likes the skin left on.
- Don’t skip the covered/uncovered part of the deep frying.
- Use oil with a high smoke point – canola, vegetable, peanut (not olive oil!)
- Put the chicken thighs or legs into the oil a few minutes before the breast so they’ll all be done around the same time.
- Fry the chicken in batches. Crowding the pan will cause the oil temperature to drop and result in a soggy crust.
- I usually got a reading of just under 140 degrees F when I pulled the chicken from the oil (at the desired level of browning) so I only needed another 5 minutes or so in the oven
- The chicken must go on a rack in the oven, putting it directly on the baking sheet will cause the bottom of the crust to go soggy.
- Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes on a wire cooling rack otherwise you’ll burn your mouth on searing hot chicken meat!
- Save the empty bottle that your oil came in. When you’re finished cooking all of your chicken, let the oil cool completely and then decant it back into the empty bottle to make cleanup even easier.
- The science behind fried chicken from The Food Lab
- Bon Appetit’s tips and tricks for fried chicken
- Bon Appetit’s recipe variations on fried chicken
And if you’re at all interested in the science of cooking or you’d just like to make some pretty delicious food then click on the image below to pick up your own copy of the book on Amazon! (affiliate link)