If you’ve ever attempted to make fried chicken in your own kitchen you know that it can be hit or miss at best. Sometimes the chicken comes out soggy, and misses that characteristic crunch that makes fried chicken such a delight; other times, the chicken is nearly black and so dry you need a gallon of gravy for every piece of chicken in your basket.
What is it about fried chicken that makes it such a difficult dish to prepare? Is it even worth it to make your own when you can buy some at a fast food restaurant down the street?
Of course it is! There are very few things more satisfying that cooking your own fried chicken and making it right. If you love fried chicken, but can’t seem to get it right, you’re probably going astray in one of three steps:
3 Steps to make the Best Fried Chicken
- The Preparation
Any great cooker of southern food will tell you that there’s more to fried chicken than just dipping it in flour and dunking it in oil. To get the best flavor and texture there are a few things you need to do before you start cooking. First, several hours before you even start cooking, you need to put two cups of buttermilk, a tablespoon of salt, and the chicken pieces in a Ziploc bag. Let the chicken soak in the mixture for at least two hours, turning occasionally. The next thing to remember while prepping the chicken is to spice up the batter with some cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and pepper. How much is up to you, but the flavor of your chicken will come from the batter, so season accordingly. Finally, don’t fry the chicken as soon as you’ve floured it. Let it rest for half an hour so that the batter adheres to the chicken.
- The Tools
The basic tools you need are:
- A cast iron skillet
- Crisco, or other similar vegetable shortening (and make sure it has trans fat)
- Bacon fat or lard
Anything other than these three tools for frying will produce less than amazing fried chicken. Cast iron skillets are perfect because they keep a steady heat well, and the shortening and lard are important because they react with the flour to create the perfect crust. People will try to make the recipe more “healthy” by using vegetable oil or the trans-fat free Crisco — don’t do this. If you want the best fried chicken, just accept that it’s going to be unhealthy and use the right tools.
- The Temperature
Believe it or not, the temperature of the fat you cook the chicken in makes all the difference in the world. Too cool and your chicken will be greasy and soggy, too hot and you might as well be eating blackened chicken. When you first heat the fat, get it to 375. The ideal cooking temp for chicken is 350, but the fat will cool a little when you put the chicken in. Cook the chicken at this temperature for about 15 minutes on the first side, and ten on the other, and you will have the best fried chicken this side of the Mason Dixon line.
This post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com.