Easier Fried Chicken

Way back in early February I made the best fried chicken ever, and I gave it 5-stars. It was the crispiest chicken I’ve ever had; not the least bit greasy or soggy. The only problem was dealing with the 5 cups of oil. The current issue of Cook’s Illustrated (September/October 2010) promises Easier Fried Chicken, with only 1-3/4 cups of oil. When I looked at the recipe, it uses many of the same techniques. Could I have my cake and eat it too? Answer: Almost.

Deal with less oil, but bottom skin is slightly soggy.

The recipe is here. Start out by brining the chicken in buttermilk solution for at least an hour. I brined for 2 hours while I played tennis. Preheat oven to 400-degrees and oil to 375-degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, pepper, salt, cayenne, garlic powder and paprika, then combine 1/4 cup of buttermilk (mixing with your fingers). Dredge chicken and place in hot oil for 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, 3 to 4 minutes on the second side.  Finish cooking on wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet for 15 to 20 minutes, checking the temperature to test for doneness; 160 for the breasts and 175 for legs and thighs.

Overall, I’d give it 4-1/2 stars. The 1/2-star reduction over the Extra-Crunchy Chicken I made in February was because the bottom of the chicken was a little soggy. This is due to the juices continuing to cook out in the oven. As they drip down they make the bottom skin a little soggier. On the plus side, this recipe makes sure that the exterior isn’t overcooked while the interior finishes cooking. Also the smaller amount of oil heats up quickly.

Issues:

  1. I had to make 2 batches, which is not mentioned in the recipe. While I only had a 10″ skillet and the recipe called for an 11″ skillet, still there is no way my 3-1/2 pounds of chicken would have fit. It didn’t delay dinner, because we started eating after the first batch was ready, then the second batch was ready 10 minutes later.
  2. I started out mixing the 1/4 cup of buttermilk with a whisk, which didn’t work. Using your fingers works much, much better.
  3. While well seasoned, next time I will kick up the spices a little. I like it spicy.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $7 for 3-1/2 pounds.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Dinner time 7:30 PM. (but played tennis for 2 hours)

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2 Responses to Easier Fried Chicken

  1. Hi,
    I”m Chris’s, and ATK’s longtime publicist (since 1993). I just want you to know what a kick we’re getting out of reading your terrific blog! I make sure that Chris sees the entries too.
    Cheers,
    Deborah Broide
    Deborah Broide Publicity
    Media Relations/ America’s Test Kitchen

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