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Sunday Dinner: Fried Chicken

June 22, 2011

So every Sunday, my gentleman friend J and I attempt to cook a big meal. Not just big, in the sense that there is a lot of food– though, inevitably, there ends up being more than two people can even dream of eating– but more like complicated, something that we couldn’t just whip up on an average tuesday after work. We have tackled all number of things, many of which will likely end up on this blog– but none quite as daunting as what we did this past sunday: pan fried chicken.

Looks good, right? Fried chicken, ya’ll, is like getting that new iPhone– it involves commitment.  Oh, you think, can’t wait to FaceTime and Tweet and make videos of my cat– but if you want the phone, you gots to sign the plan and get data and a cover and you sure as shit better have AppleCare.  Similarly, you can’t just throw some chicken in a pan and five minutes later crunch down on a drumstick that puts Popeye’s to shame. You have to have the right equipment, you have to do a little advanced planning, and be prepared for a bit of a mess.  Having said that– kids, every second you put into it is worth it. It’s fried chicken. It’s crunchy and juicy and flavorful and there is nothing on the planet like it.

This recipe is inspired by one I found by Ted Allen, in his book The Food You Want to Eat (find it on Amazon here).  I tweaked and fiddled with it a bit. But first, let’s talk equipment.

Cast Iron Skillet. A necessity. If you don’t have one, drive your ass down to Bed Bath & Beyond and get one now. These heavy pans hold so much flavor in them, and they can hold up to the heat necessary for the frying necessary here. You can possibly use another deep frying pan, but definitely not one that is non-stick– they just can’t handle the heat.

Fry Thermometer. Your everyday meat thermometer won’t work. You need one that is made for frying (often they are also called candy or jelly thermometers). In preparation for making fried chicken, I went and bought this exact one. They are super cheap at BB&B or your local food store.

Cooling Rack. Another good thing to have around the house– great for cookies/biscuits/baking as well as anything fried. This allows the chicken to drip dry instead of sitting in grease on a plate. Again, super cheap.

So once you get all your toys together, you’re going to need something else for this chicken: time. Letting the chicken soak in buttermilk and herbs makes all the difference– and the longer, the better. The salt makes the chicken juicy, and the buttermilk makes the flour stick to the chicken really well. In short: do the buttermilk thing. It’s worth it.

okay! Let’s get started. You’ll need:

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • sprig of thyme
  • 3 tbsp of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp siraicha (optional)
  • 1.5 quarts of canola oil (approx. 6 cups)
  • 1 whole chicken, cut up into 8 peices (you can get them pre-cut up at the grocery store if that’s beyond your skillz)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp Lawrys seasoning salt
  • 1 tbsp each of cumin, chili powder, & cayenne pepper
  1. In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, garlic, thyme, 2 tbsp of salt, and pepper. If you want a little kick to your chicken, add the siracha and stir thoroughly. Place chicken in the buttermilk, cover and refrigerate.  Let the chicken soak for as little as 2 hours, but preferably overnight or all day.
  2. Heat oil in cast-iron skillet over medium-high flame. You want around 2/3 inch of oil in the pan– not enough to cover the chicken– if you put too much in, the oil will overflow when cooking. Insert thermometer into the oil– you want the oil to reach 350 degrees.  When you put the the chicken in, the temp will drop drastically, so make sure you’re up to 350 before you put in the bird. This will take a few minutes, as many as 15.
  3. While the oil is heating, place the flour in  large sealable plastic bag. Add the Lawry’s and spices, as well as a bit of pepper. Take chicken from the buttermilk, approx. 3 pieces at a time, and place in bag. Shake thoroughly, then place floured chicken on a cookie sheet. Repeat for the rest of the chicken.
  4. When the oil gets to 350 degrees, carefully place each peice of chicken, skin side down, in the pan. You should be able to fit all 8 in the pan; if it gets too crowded, do this step in batches. [NOTE: if you do the chicken in batches, make sure to heat the oil back up to 350 before you start the second batch.] Cover the pan and let the chicken cook for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and let cook another 5 minutes. Then, turn each peice, checking to make sure it is golden brown on the skin before you do so:

  • Let the chicken cook an additional 7 or so minutes for the white meat (breast and wings), and 9 or so minutes for the dark meat (thighs and drummies).  Make sure all the skin is golden brown before you remove. Place the chicken on a cooling rack on a paper-towel-lined cookie sheet to drain for a few minutes. Serve immediately, or later, or cold, because frankly, fried chicken is good any way you serve it.

Yeeeeeah buddy. I’m not going to say it’s as good as Bojangles’ (you kids from the South know what i’m talking about), but it is still damn good. And, just like having a phone with Words with Friends– totally worth the committment.

By the way, this dish is even better when served with biscuits. Obviously. I’m thinking a biscuit post might be good for tomorrow. Because, y’know, clear arteries are overrated.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Geeds permalink
    June 22, 2011 10:29 am

    dank. diggity dank even. i can haz?

  2. Ann permalink
    June 22, 2011 12:05 pm

    god, the pics are like food porn…. 🙂

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