Monday, March 3, 2008

The Funky Chicken

Well, I do not claim to be southern nor the original maker of this recipe, but I was asked to put this up on this blog since it is hands down the best fried chicken I have ever made. Crispy on the outside and oh-so-delicious on the inside, this chicken is requested at least once a month by my girlfriend. When she reads this she will probably ask for it again.

Before I spit out a recipe, I need to bring a few things to light that will make this process go easier. Lets take it step by step, shall we?

Chicken- You will need a whole chicken (preferably a frier or broiler) cut into eight pieces. Though you can buy a pre-cut chicken, they tend to taste slightly funky. I recommend cutting it yourself. Well, I did until I found out my butcher does it for free. So go that route unless you love knife work.

Pan- Cast Iron. Yep, I am going right back to that pan. Greatest fifteen bucks I have spent since I paid that much to take a semester long wine tasting class. The cast iron holds in heat, brings flavor to the party, and takes chicken placement very well. If you insist on not listening to the thousands of screaming people who love their cast iron, you can use an electric skillet or a deep pan that is at least 10 inches wide.

Fat- Crisco, or vegetable shortening, is the real winner here. The chicken is not deep fried, it is pan fried, and this fat with neutral flavor and a high smoke point is perfect. Most people do their pan frying in vegetable shortening simply because of ease of use (not to mention disposal)

Thermometer- See previous post.

Ok, now that we have the basics out of the way, lets move on to the recipe. The original is credit to Alton Brown (from the Good Eats episode Fry Hard II: The Chicken)

Fried Chicken

1 broiler/fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups low fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons kosher salt (4 teaspoons table salt)
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on your like of spicy foods)
Flour, for dredging
Vegetable shortening, for frying

Place chicken pieces into a plastic container and cover with buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Melt enough shortening (over low heat) to come just 1/8-inch up the side of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. Once shortening liquefies raise heat to 325-350 degrees F. Do not allow oil to go over 350 degrees F. (Actually, you can let it go to 400 before it begins to break down, but stay below just to be safe)

Drain chicken in a colander. Combine salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Liberally season chicken with this mixture. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

Place chicken skin side down into the pan. Put thighs in the center, and breast and legs around the edge of the pan. The oil should come half way up the pan. Cook chicken until golden brown on each side, approximately 10 to 12 minutes per side. When the chicken enters the shortening the temperature will drop. Increase the heat slightly, but not enough to scorch the chicken. More importantly, the internal temperature should be right around 165-175 degrees when the chicken is done. (Be careful to monitor shortening temperature every few minutes, I use my probe thermometer since I am using a shallow dish.)

Drain chicken on a rack over a sheet pan. Don't drain by setting chicken directly on paper towels or brown paper bags. If you need to hold the chicken before serving, cover loosely with foil but avoid holding in a warm oven.

If you noticed there was no room for the wings. Well, a lot of chefs do not use the wings in fried chicken. Blasphemy if you ask me. So if you have a big pan that will fit them, use it. If not, fry the wings right after the other pieces, it will only take a few minutes.

Serve and watch it be devoured.


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