Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken

One year ago I said that I would try the spicy version of  the Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken. This week I got a chance to cook 7 pounds of it; finally. However, after re-reading the full Extra-Spicy, Extra-Crunchy recipe; which called for 2 teaspoons chili powder, 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper and 4 tablespoons Tabasco sauce; I wimped out. I was afraid it would be too hot for my family (my kids can be finicky), so I only added about 1/2 the spices.  The result was not at all hot. In fact, it had much better flavor than the plain Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken.

Better than last time; 5-stars.

It is important to remember that this is a shallow fry recipe, not a deep fry recipe. Add only 3/4-inch of oil to bottom of your Dutch oven. Last November I made this recipe as a deep fry, but the results were only 4-stars.

Today’s results were 5-star. I will never make Chris Kimball’s plain Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken again; it needs the extra kick of more spices as shown below. Still, I promise to try his full cayenne/Tabasco recipe soon; I just couldn’t risk the 7-pounds of chicken.

Additional Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball warned me that the key to this recipe is having the oil at the proper temperature (as specified below at the various stages). Otherwise the interior and exterior will not cook at the same rate. This had been my downfall last November.
  2. Supposedly, a single batch can have up to 3-1/2 pounds of chicken. However, I have found that I should not exceed 2-1/2 pounds per batch based upon the potency of my stovetop.
  3. The recipe calls for 4 to 5 cups of vegetable shortening or peanut oil. But peanut oil would cost be $14/gallon, so I use my regular Wesson vegetable oil that frequently goes on sale for $4/gallon.
  4. Chicken has been on sale this week. I paid just $5.50 for my 7-pounds of chicken parts. What a deal!

Rating: 5-star.
Cost: $7 for 7-lbs of chicken.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium/High.
Start time 4:00 PM. Dinner time 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original Extra-Spicy, Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken recipe is here.  My tame version and the descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below.

2 cups plus 6 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons salt
3-1/2 pounds bone-in chicken parts.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups vegetable oil

  1. If substituting clabbered milk, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to milk and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 cups buttermilk and 2 tablespoons salt in large bowl. Stir until the salt has completely dissolved.
  3. Add chicken to the brine; stir to coat; and cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 1 hour. Don’t over-brine or your chicken will be too salty.
  4. In another medium/large bowl, add flour, baking powder, thyme, pepper, and garlic powder together. Whisk briefly, then add the final 6 tablespoons of buttermilk. Mix with your hands until fully incorporated and mixture is like coarse wet sand. (Do NOT try the whisk!)
  5. Working in two batches, add two or chicken pieces at a time to flour mixture and gently press flour mixture onto chicken to coat. Shake any excess flour from each piece. Place the chicken on a wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet. Coat only enough chicken for your first batch.
  6. Heat 3/4-inch deep vegetable oil (about 4 to 5 cups) into large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 375-degrees. Because it is only half the regular amount of oil, it will heat up surprisingly fast; so be careful.
  7. Working in two batches, place chicken skin-side down in oil. Fry covered for 4 minutes. Remove the lid and rearrange the chicken to ensure even cooking. Let the first side cook uncovered for 4 more minutes. You may need to adjust the heat if the oil is hotter or colder than 300-degrees.
  8. Flip chicken over and continue to fry uncovered about 8 minutes longer. You may need to adjust the heat if the oil is hotter or colder than 315-degrees.
  9. Remove when the chicken is deeply golden brown, and place on a paper-towel lined plate.
  10. Keep it warm in the pre-heated 200 degree oven while you repeat from step 5 with the second batch of chicken; coat, fry, flip and drain.
  11. Let drain for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.  Preparation time is 2 hours.

10 Responses to Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken

  1. Babygirl says:

    I definitely would wimp out to the spicy version of this chicken recipe as well but I LOVE it without the spice lol. Wonderful recipe. And buttermilk always does wonders for chicken.

  2. zena says:

    I saw this episode just the other day…and was think the same thing about the spices! I’ve got three kids, so it seemed a bit much. I’m going to try your version. Great blog..i’m addicted to America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country. You just got a new reader!

  3. GG says:

    I’m assuming this chicken is with the skin on? Do you think I could make this without the skin? No chicken-skin-lovers in this family but me. Thanks!

    • Yes, usually all Cook’s Illustrated recipes are with the skin on. You can certainly make it without the skin, but the crust may have a tendency to fall off easier.

      Skinless is definitely healthier, but even if you don’t usually love the skin you may love it in this recipe.

      • GG says:

        Wow! That was a super-quick response! Thanks! Making it tomorrow. Probably will try one batch with skin on and another without. Thanks again! I have ordered their new ATK 2001-2012 cookbook – can’t wait for it to arrive!

        • Let me know how the two versions compare, Are you making the spicy or regular version? The version here uses half the spices of the official spicy version. I haven’t yet tried it with the full 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper.

  4. Jessica Harris says:

    Half my coating fell off during frying? 😦 This was my first attempt at fried chicken. I was proud of how well I broke a whole chicken down, but when it comes to frying I haven’t got my technique down yet. I heated my oil to correct temperature, but when I put the chicken in the oil went down by almost 115 degrees, it was not at 310, like they said in the episode. I definitely over crowded the pan, but on the tv episode, they put the whole thing in I thought. I used a small 3lb chicken, so it only equaled about 2 to 2.5 lbs of chicken in the pan. I was behind on dinner so I didn’t have the patience to do two batches and I still had to fry squash. Maybe I will try again. Thank you so much for this blog, it makes a nice addition to CI/ATK and real world recipe situations.

  5. David Auner says:

    some of the author’s comments here are not healthy at all. PUFA oils can start oxidizing significantly in minutes – do peanut oil mixed with lard from a pastured pig for safety or go to a shake and bake recipe. The cheap chicken, unless it was a rare event of grain fed chicken made everybody who ate it that day a little more burdened with frankenfats from just the chicken, a little more insulin resistant and a little more likely to have a bad molecule mutate or dysregulate DNA causing tumors or clots. Salut!

    • Freeeeedom says:

      It’s good to know he’s not cooking it and shoving it down your pie-hole robot man. You’re allowed to think on your own. If you don’t believe in the good book of vegetable oil, then simply change the oil, come up with recipe and have your own organic chicken party.

      Go crazy.

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