I’ve traveled a bit. I’ve met some people. I’ve tried a few things. There’s almost nothing in this world that is universal across every culture, every region, or every socioeconomic status that I’ve encountered.
Other than fried chicken.
Pretty much every place I’ve been has some variation that’s a staple. As an American we have our classic Southern-fried or Louisiana spicy. We even bread and fry steak and call it chicken fried. My Indian mother makes an incredible chicken cutlet. There’s nothing in the summer like a lightly breaded Chicken Milanese. The Chinese may love their pork, but I’ll never forget my first KFC Peking Chicken Wrap in Beijing. I would readily pay anyone $100 to somehow bring a Singaporean McSpicy to me in New York. Frying up chicken is so universal that a major Russian fried chicken chain recently bought by KFC was started by a Venezuelan.
In Palestine, people are smuggling fried chicken through tunnels from Egypt. As a 31 year old Palestinian so eloquently told the NYT,
“It’s our right to enjoy that taste the other people all over the world enjoy.”
Wherever you go in this world, people love frying up chicken. The only way I could honor this common bond that unites humanity last week on National Fried Chicken Day was taking my first attempt at making it from scratch.
I found a recipe that claimed to replicate the extra crispy, spicy fried chicken from Popeye’s. My fellow New Yorkers know my weakness when it comes to that Louisiana-inspired brilliance.
What I learned:
A lot of what I read instructed me to soak the chicken for hours in buttermilk to get the batter to fry in a proper way. I did. I’m not quite sure how this works but it certainly did seem to do the trick.
The frying station began fairly clean and orderly. It did not end this way.
The most difficult part was monitoring the chicken as it fried, and flipping the chicken without all that beautiful batter coating slipping off the meat.
I was honestly surprised at how perfectly crispy and fluffy it came out. The main improvement for next time is to be a bit more brave in the seasoning (I was nervous about overdoing it, but it came out a bit blander than I hoped)
Fun fact #1: I did make one piece death-defyingly spicy to surprise one lucky guest.
Fun fact #2: As I often do, I made too much and the last batch was unneeded. I spent the week trying to find the super spicy one, and became legally obese in the process.
Extra-Crispy Spicy Fried Chicken with “Delta” Sauce
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup water
- About 1 cup “Texas Pete” hot red pepper sauce
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 quart buttermilk (optional)
- Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder (to taste)
- 1 (1 to 2 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into pieces
- Peanut Oil, for frying
- Delta sauce (recipe follows)
- Place cut-up chicken in a large bowl, and cover with buttermilk. Cover and chill for two hours, or overnight. This is an optional (but recommended) step.
- In a large bowl, add eggs, water, and red pepper sauce. Whisk until combined.
- In a large gallon freezer bag, mix flour, pepper, paprika, and cayenne.
- Remove chicken from buttermilk (if marinated) and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Place all chicken pieces in freezer bag with flour mixture. Shake until all pieces are evenly coated.
- Remove chicken pieces one at a time, shaking excess flour. Dip each piece in the egg mixture, and return to bag of flour. After all pieces of been dipped in the egg mixture and put back in the bag, give it a second shake to coat chicken pieces again.
- Heat oil in deep fryer or deep pan to 350 degrees. Working in batches, drop each piece of chicken into the hot oil. Fry for 15–18 minutes, or until golden brown, turning occasionally if oil does not completely cover chicken. Keep in mind that dark meat chicken takes longer to cook than white meat. Watch your wing segments, as well; these will finish cooking first.