Monday, April 22, 2013

Sunday Dinner: Family Favorite Fried Chicken

It's Sunday again, and time for another recipe! Tonight, we've having our favorite fried chicken. I've developed this recipe over a number of years. It takes some work, and some prep, but it's sooo worth it!

Family Favorite Fried Chicken

Several hours before frying, mix these ingredients together in a large bowl- put in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight:
4 lbs. Chicken legs or other chicken pieces
2 c. buttermilk
2 T. Garlic Salt
1 T. good seasoning salt (I like Kroger's), or Old Bay Seasoning

Chicken in the buttermilk marinade

Mix these ingredients in a large plastic bag, or a bowl, to make your "dredge":

2 c. self-rising flour
2 c. all purpose flour
2 T. salt, any kind (garlic, onion, seasoned, etc.) Note: you may want more salt- we like it this way, but it's not NEARLY as salty as commercial fried chicken!
1 t. black pepper
1/2 t. turmeric or paprika (for color)
1 t. or more of any herb you might like- marjoram, thyme, etc.
1/4 t. ground cumin (gives a rich undertone to the flavor)
Dash or more of cayenne pepper

And then mix these up, in a container large enough to dip your chicken pieces in:
4 beaten eggs
Just under 1/4 c. water
Optional: 1-2 T. hot pepper sauce (I like Crystal for this)

Here's what you do:
First, cover a goodly section of your counter with plastic wrap- this will spare you a LOT of cleanup, later on!

Take your chicken pieces, and shake off excess buttermilk marinade. Dredge the pieces in the flour mixture, and place them on your counter. Next, dip them in the egg mixture, and then dredge them again, covering well. Now set them on the counter again, and let them rest a few minutes. For a crispier coating, repeat the process up to 2 more times, letting your coating set up between dip-n-dredges. When you've got the amount of coating you want, let them rest again, so the coating develops. You're aiming for a thick, paste-like consistency.

Chicken at rest

Give them one last dredge of the flour mixture ONLY, before frying. Your goal is to make a coating that adheres well, and doesn't stick to the counter. Lumpy and clumpy, but stuck on there GOOD. This will also keep them from sticking to your cooking pan.

Now, let them rest again, while you heat some oil (about 1 cup- you don't need a lot, since you're not deep-frying) in a large skillet or Dutch're looking for about 325-350 degrees, or hot enough that a cube of fresh bread sizzles and fries in a minute or two. I prefer peanut oil, because of its high smoking point, but use whatever you prefer.

Now, here's a hint that you won't want to skip! I know I've mentioned this in a previous post- it's my frying secret, and it makes a world of difference. Throw a small slice of onion or shallot in the oil, and fry it. This will help your chicken to brown nicely, and adds a certain something to the flavor. When the onion starts to brown a bit, remove it from the oil, and either use it in one of your side dishes, or pitch it. Alternatively, if you've cooked sausages or bacon for breakfast, just leave a little of the grease in the pan- it'll have a similar (and tasty!) effect.

Sizzlin' shallots!

Fry the chicken in batches, 5 minutes per side, for about 30-40 minutes. (I warned you that this was a time-consuming process!) You want these suckers DONE- food poisoning is no fun for anyone. (Ask me how I know.) Turn frequently, to get all sides browned nicely. If needed, re-dredge your raw chicken while it waits- the worst that'll happen is that you'll have even crunchier chicken. ("Oh, no, not crispier, crunchier fried chicken! Don't throw me in that briar patch!" So sayeth the Big Guy, and both Things. )

As your batches get done, keep 'em warm in a 200F oven, on a cookie sheet with racks, to allow the excess oil to drain. You can also drain your cooked chicken on brown paper bags, as the Japanese do- it works well, and keeps the chicken crispy.

 Now, EAT, quickly! That is, if your family doesn't grab it all first! 

Thing One, chicken-thief!

This WAS the pan, BEFORE he got to it!

Note: you can also make this fried chicken with boneless, skinless breast meat- cut your frying time to about 20 minutes, maximum, or even less if you cut the breast meat into strips.

A very satisfying dinner, indeed!
Whew! 100% worth it!

Linking up to Craft-O-Maniac Monday- see you there!

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