Chicken Fried Chicken

et up.

Fried chicken: It might hasten your death in certain quantities, but it also has many other features to recommend it. Since I posted the above pic of my homemade fried chicken on twitter, several people have asked for the recipe. It’s a little involved for twitter, so I thought I’d post it here for posterity. Enjoy.

The Chicken

I use bone-in thighs and drumsticks. That’s right: dark meat. You’re free to incorporate white meat if you want to, but I’ve never had anybody complain about an all-dark plate. It’s juicy!

The Oil

I use peanut oil. I’m sure you could use other kinds. My mom uses straight up melted lard, so that’s always an option if somebody has an allergy. (Though I believe most commercially marketed peanut oil is purified as to remove the protein that triggers peanut allergies!)

The Set-Up

Ah, the equipment list. Here’s what I find totally essential: Gallon-sized ziploc baggies, two really big mixing bowls, a dutch oven, tongs, and a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack that fits over it. I usually cover the baking sheet in tin foil before I get started…just makes clean-up a little easier.

The Goods

Chicken

All-purpose flour (The quantity will depend on how much chicken you’re making. For 6 thighs, ~2 cups should do it, if you also factor in the ~1.5–2 cups of cornstarch)

Cornstarch (I usually go about half-n-half with the flour)

Salt

Pepper

Seasoning: garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, herbs, etc.

Peanut oil (Enough to deep fry in — judge by the size of your dutch oven or wok)

Buttermilk (Will also depend on how much chicken you’re making. Starting with a quart doesn’t hurt)

Egg whites (2 per quart of buttermilk)

Vodka (~3 tbsp per quart of buttermilk)

The Steps

  1. ) Morning-of or night-before, unwrap your chicken packs, towel-dry the chicken pieces, and salt them thoroughly. You can hit them with other dry seasonings here, too, but just salt is fine too. Then put the salted pieces in ziploc bags and stick them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
  2. ) Start your oil heating on medium heat.
  3. ) Whisk the buttermilk with the vodka and egg whites in a large mixing bowl. It should be frothy.
  4. ) Whisk the flour with the cornstarch and seasonings you’re using. I go pretty heavy on the seasoning. Nobody complains.
  5. ) Set up your baking sheet with the wire rack over it.
  6. ) Now take the chicken out of the fridge and start getting it coated. This is easy: Using your hands (latex gloves are nice here, especially if you have long nails), dip each chicken piece in the buttermilk mix, then lay them in the flour mix and coat thoroughly. Doughy tidbits will form in the flour mix; this is good, they adhere to the chicken and add crunch.
  7. ) Once the chicken is thoroughly coated, check your oil. Some people use thermometers for this; my mom taught me to just sort of eyeball it by whether or not flour sprinkled in sizzles. (You want it to sizzle nicely.) When the oil is hot, gently lower the chicken pieces in. They should start cooking quite dramatically immediately.
  8. ) You can do about four thighs at a time — keep in mind the oil will cool down each time you add some chicken. Each batch takes about 15 minutes or so. When your chicken is done, it will be nicely brown and…feel done. Again, some people use a thermometer to test for doneness, which is a good idea, but my mom taught me to just sort of judge by the feeling of the chicken. It’s never a bad idea to test the first piece you remove from the first batch by just cutting it open — and eating it while you cook the rest :)
  9. ) Set the finished pieces to drain on the wire rack positioned over the baking sheet.
  10. ) Serve!