Friday, April 22, 2011

Fried Chicken

There are few things so delicious, homey, retro, warming, comforting and just plain good as a pile of fried chicken.

Sure you have to invest in some fat of some kind but crisco is cheap and if you buy a whole chicken and cut it up, the investment is $4.00 and some flour.  My local store puts the whole chickens on sale frequently so I always have a couple of them in the freezer.  I am a firm believer that a couple of frozen whole chickens in the freezer equal about a million meal options so buy them when they are on sale!

It's one of my go to meals when cash it tight and it feels extravagant somehow.  For it's old school simplicity, there's something special about a home made fried chicken dinner.

I don't know why people think it's a fuss or takes too long or is too fatty or greasy.  Truly, it's not that much extra work and the payoff is most definitely worth it in my book.

I made it tonight for dinner, I was asked for my recipe, this is it.  It's tender, juicy, delicious, crispy and soft and moist all at the same time.  It's one of the few things I actually think I do very well.  It's easy, you'll be brilliant at it too!  Here's the play by play shots, the recipe is so easy and so classic and anyone who says fried chicken needs more than a couple of ingredients is just fussing with it too much

Tracy's Fried Chicken:

1 cut up chicken, about 4 lbs?
1 1/2 inches oil/crisco/lard in a dutch oven
(heated till water sizzles, the bread is brown, the flour dances or the temperature is 365)
1 cup flour with a small handful of cornstarch mixed in (for crispness) plus more if needed
3 eggs and a splash of milk (but you can CERTAINLY do this without egging the chicken, just go straight for the flour)
salt and pepper, paprika and/or cinnamon

There's a couple of steps but they're easy and you can stand at the stove with a glass of wine through most of the cooking process so it's low stress too!  Here we go:

Cut up a fryer chicken, about 4 lbs, into 10 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 breasts each cut in half).  Dry the chicken and salt and pepper the chicken liberally!  This matters.

In a gallon zip lock back crack 3 eggs add a splash of milk and loads of salt and pepper.  Squish it all around and put the chicken pieces in.  Toss them into the fridge for whenever you're ready for chicken.

Put about 1 1/2 inchs of oil in a dutch oven with a lid.  Toss a tiny square of bread in the oil and turn it on medium high.  When the bread is brown, the oil is ready to fry.  I have a ceramic cooktop and I set mine to 6.

In a very large bowl mix about a cup of flour with loads of salt and pepper and a bit of paprika (add cayenne or whatever other dried spice you want here, I'm a purist and keep it really simple).  A secret is to add a pinch, and I mean a pinch, of cinnamon, it does something to the chicken, try it, or not but remember it's just a teenie pinch if you're going to add it.

Mix the flour around and dredge the dark meat pieces first.  Coat them thickly and put them gently into the hot oil.  The oil should be about half way up the chicken.  Lay all the dark meat in the pan and clamp the lid on.  Time it for 8 minutes, do NOT peek.  Stand there and watch the steam come out, listen to the sizzle, wonder if it's burning (it's not!) but don't peek.


After 8 minutes, open it!  LOOK!  oooooh, the chicken is steamy and soft and juicy and the bottom is beautifully brown!  You can flip it gently, clamp the lid back on and time 5 minutes, again, no peeking!

After 5 minutes, open it! OOOH, it's chickeny beauty!!!  Leave it to fry without the lid for 2-3 minutes, until it's just cooked through.  Transfer the chicken to a rack on a baking sheet and do the rest of the chicken.

Repeat with the breasts.  8 minutes with the lid on tight, flip, 5 minutes then let it go another 3 topless minutes.

Pop the chicken in a 300 oven for about 15 minutes.  It'll finish cooking and rest all at the same time.  This is some juicy chicken!

Meanwhile, pour off all but a couple tablespoons of the fat, add a little flour and some water and stir like heck!  Add a little milk to make it a bit creamier, loads of salt and pepper and let it boil like mad for a while.  Taste alot! Make some mashed potatoes and cook some frozen peas if you have to have green, I didn't today and although my mother would have a coronary at the lack of green on the plate; I've had a hellova week and just needed some fried chicken, mashed potatoes and cream gravy.  I ate it and it made me happy.  Next time, there'll be green :)

Random beauty shots.  Wow, this is some good chicken.  You can see it's not greasy and only took 30 minutes for a whole bird.  The nice thing is you can make this early in the day, there's nothing bad at all with room temperature fried chicken.  Make way extra for cold in the week or picnics or midnight fridge raids when husband gets the munchies after hours of angry birds.  Trust me, make loads, you'll eat it!
Take some beauty shots of your chicken and send it to me, i'll post them!


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