Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Crispy Fried Chicken

In my last post, I promised you easy fried chicken to go with those biscuits, along with a few reasons why you can eat these Southern comfort foods without raising your jeans size.

Take my advice, and you will never again have to have guilty fantasies about yourself and a bucket of Extra Tasty Crispy:

• Marinate overnight in buttermilk—it makes the chicken so tender that you won’t feel horribly deprived if you don’t eat all the skin

• Use canola oil—so if you do end up eating more of the fabulously crispy skin than you planned, at least it will be cooked in heart-healthy fat

• Use tasty chicken pieces—go ahead and fry legs and thighs; the extra moisture and flavor makes them more satisfying than breasts, and they cook quickly

• Do greens on the side—this meal becomes a lot more nutritious if you serve simple greens (I did turnip; kale and collard are good too) sautéed in olive oil, lemon and garlic

• Make your own biscuits—They’ve only got 4 ingredients, not counting salt, so it’s too easy not to whip these up yourself; because you’ll use the best ingredients, they will be worth every buttery bite

Crispy Fried Chicken Leg and Thighs
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine and Tyler Florence for Food Network
Plan on marinating the chicken for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Serves 4

8-10 pieces of chicken (any combo of legs and thighs)
3-4 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
2 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1-2 tsp. Hungarian smoked paprika
½ tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 ½ quarts canola oil

Place the chicken pieces in a large heavy-duty Ziploc bag and pour in 3-4 cups buttermilk. Seal up the bag, swish the chicken around and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Flip the bag over a few times during marinating period so all the chicken has a chance to soak.

In another large Ziploc bag, combine the flour, salt, pepper cumin, paprika and cayenne. Add 3 or 4 pieces of chicken, seal and shake. Shake off any clumps of flour then press the chicken pieces so the remaining flour adheres well. Set chicken on a wire rack and repeat with remaining pieces.

Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large, heavy saucepan. Using a frying thermometer, heat the oil to between 350 and 360 degrees. Add 3 or 4 chicken pieces and fry, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes total. The temperature of the oil will drop when you add the chicken, so keep an eye on the thermometer and adjust the heat so the temperature stays between 325 and 350 while frying. When the chicken is done it will be well-browned, but if you aren’t sure, take one piece out and cut into it. You won’t be able to put it back into the oil if it isn’t cooked through, but you can finish it in the oven, if necessary. This is better than having a whole batch of undercooked chicken.

Use tongs to take the cooked pieces out of the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Serve immediately or later, at room temperature.

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Peabody said...

I must admit that I have never made traditional fried chicken...probably should since my hubby is from the South and all. Perhaps I will give this a try!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Buttermilk is the secret to great fried chicken! The other secret for my mother's fried chicken was bacon grease but then there is no way to make it healthy.
That is really a beautful photo of fried chicken!