Batter-Fried Chicken

October 28, 2010

When Chris Kimball speaks, I listen. So when he announced on a new Cook’s Country episode that this batter-fried chicken was better than last years fried chicken, I immediately ran to the store to buy the supplies. Actually, Last Year’s Fried Chicken was my first recipe that I posted on this blog, January 1, 2010. However, Chris Kimball was only partially right: this year’s fried chicken does have perfect crust. The half-corn starch / half-flour ratio provides the crust with the ideal thickness and texture. But the zest of the Creole seasoning gave much better flavor. Obviously, the technique of seasoning only the dredging mixture can never equal the intensity of seasoning applied directly to the chicken.

Another fabulous fried chicken from Cook's Country

Rating 4-stars.  Still, the ultimate fried chicken according to every member of my family is the two-year-old Extra-Crunch Fried Chicken. However, because this recipe contains absolutely no milk the crust will not burn while the chicken cooks through.

Issues/Comments:

  1. The runny batter has a tendency to stick to the bottom of my dutch oven. After 4 minutes, I used the tongs to scrape each piece free. I didn’t do that for the first batch, and the crust was broken where it had stuck to the bottom.
  2. Because each batch can be at most 2-pounds of chicken and I had 5-pounds of chicken breasts, I made 3 batches.
  3. I made extra chicken for tomorrow. To preserve the crispiness of the crust, let chicken cool for an hour on the counter top, then cover loosely with paper towel and refrigerate until complete chilled. Finally, cover paper towel with plastic wrap. This ensures that no condensation forms inside the plastic wrap, and also that the chicken will not dry out.
  4. I love it when chicken breasts go on sale for just 99-cents per pound.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $7 for 5 pounds.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Medium/High. Frying always makes a mess.
Started: 5:00 pm  Ready:  7:15 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below.

Brine:
1 quart cold water
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces

Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
5 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups cold water
3 quarts vegetable oil

  1. Cut chicken breasts in half crosswise, which will cook more evenly. Also cut apart any leg quarters to separate the thighs from the drumsticks.
  2. Make the brine by whisking together 1 quart cold water, 1/4 cup table salt and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in large bowl. After the sugar and salt have dissolved, add chicken pieces and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in large bowl add together the flour, cornstarch, pepper, paprika, cayenne, baking powder, salt, and water. Whisk until the batter is smooth and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. After 1 hour, place a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 3 quarts of vegetable oil and begin pre-heating.
  5. Discard brine and pat chicken dry using paper towels.
  6. Re-whisk the batter to ensure an even consistency. Add half your chicken pieces to the bowl with the batter. If you are mixing white with dark meat, try to cook your batches either all white meat or all dark meat.
  7. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, remove chicken from batter one piece at a time and let the excess batter drip back into the bowl to avoid a doughy crust; add chicken piece to hot oil.
  8. If you want to serve the both batches together, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees to keep the first batch warm while the second batch cooks.
  9. Fry up-to-2-pounds of chicken for 14 to 15 minutes until the skin becomes deeply golden brown and the white meat registers 160 degrees (any legs of thighs should be cooked to 175 degrees). After 4 minutes stir the chicken to ensure that it has not stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  10. Place the chicken on wire rack set over a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Allow it to drain then pat with paper towels. Place in 200-degree oven while you prepare the second batch.
  11. Bring oil back up to 350 degrees and repeat from step 5 with remaining chicken pieces.

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