Hello. Hope you had a nice weekend. I got very little done, beyond catching up on sleep and laundry (both important). I also got back into the kitchen to do a little cooking, one of the things I miss most when I’m away. Originally, I had planned on roasting a chicken, but instead, at the last minute, I went for something more ambitious–fried chicken. Strangely, this is one of those dishes that I absolutely adore but have always trusted other people to make. For some reason, I’ve always felt too intimidated making it myself. Don’t ask me why then I decided to tackle this sort of cooking project after a grueling week-long business trip?
I felt a great sense of accomplishment cutting a whole chicken for the first time. It wasn’t perfect but it’s a skill I hope to get better at down the line. (I found this tutorial to be super helpful.) I realize that there are countless ways to fry a chicken. I hardly claim to be an expert, although, I’ve eaten plenty in my lifetime and know what I like and what I don’t. To me, the perfect fried chicken is well seasoned, moist, and has a good crust that stays on the chicken. I confess that this isn’t quite my grandma’s fried chicken (because really what could beat that?) but for a first go, I thought this batch was quite good. It’s an amalgamation of several recipes. The process is a bit labor intensive but well worth the effort. Served with a little buttermilk mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, and steamed green beans, I can’t think of a better Sunday supper.
Yet Another Fried Chicken Recipe
1 broiler/fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups low fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons Tabasco or hot sauce of your choosing
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Flour, for dredging
Vegetable shortening, for frying
1. Combine buttermilk, Tabasco, salt, and pepper and pour into gallon ziplock back. Place chicken pieces in bag, moving pieces around to make sure they are all submerged in the buttermilk mixture. (I placed the bag into a bowl as an added measure in case it springs a leak.) Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
2. Drain chicken in a colander. Combine salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Liberally season chicken with this mixture. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess. Place dredged pieces on wire rack and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour. (This does two things. First, it dries up the chicken a little and prevents splattering when it fries. Second, it takes the chill off the chicken which cuts down on the frying time.)
3. About fifteen minutes before the chicken is ready to fry, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Melt enough shortening (over low heat) to come just 1/8-inch up the side of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or heavy dutch oven. (I melted about 2.5 cups of shortening in my 5 quart Le Creuset dutch oven.) Once shortening liquefies raise heat to 325 degrees F. Do not allow oil to go over 325 degrees F. (Be careful to monitor shortening temperature every few minutes.)
5. Place chicken skin side down into the pan. Start first by frying the thighs and legs. Cook until the chicken is a light golden brown, approximately 4-5 minutes per side. (The chicken will brown further in the oven.) Place thighs and legs on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow these pieces to finish cooking in the oven while you fry the other pieces. (These pieces needed about 20 minutes in the oven to finish cooking.)
6. Next, fry the wings and breast pieces, 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown. These pieces take less time to cook so I did not finish them in the oven like the thighs and legs. The most important part is getting the internal temperature to around 180 degrees.
7. Drain chicken on a rack over a sheet pan.