Crispy Fried Chicken at Home
There’s an undeniable appeal to hot, crunchy fried chicken. Once you master the art of frying chicken at home, you’ll never go back. Chefs and grandmas alike boast about their “perfect” recipes, featuring their special coatings and signature spice blends. But the truth is, anyone can achieve fried chicken perfection with a little practice. Deep-frying may seem daunting for many home cooks, but it’s actually quite simple. All you need are a few basic tools and some time. Don’t be discouraged by the amount of oil involved; you can reuse it. Once the oil has cooled after frying, strain it, refrigerate it, and use it again (never pour oil down the drain). Once you’ve mastered the art of making fried chicken, you’ll be the star of every picnic and party, serving up large batches of chicken with delicious Southern sides like biscuits, collards, and slaw. And the best part? You can enjoy fried chicken at room temperature or even cold straight from the fridge. Follow this foolproof recipe, and you’ll be golden.
What Type of Chicken Should You Choose?
When it comes to frying chicken, we recommend using skin-on, bone-in chicken. This allows the skin to become crispy while keeping the meat juicy. You can use any part of the chicken for frying, including wings. You have the option of buying pre-packaged chicken parts or a whole chicken that you can cut into pieces yourself, such as breasts, drumsticks, thighs, and wings. Alternatively, you can simply purchase the parts you enjoy the most. If you prefer dark meat, opt for drumsticks and thighs, while those who prefer white meat can choose breasts. Keep in mind that breasts take slightly longer to cook.
Choosing the Right Oil
Opinions may vary when it comes to the best oil for frying chicken. Some people prefer shortening or lard, while others opt for oil. Many find that a combination of the two works well. The key is to use an oil with a high smoke point, meaning it can withstand high temperatures without burning. Vegetable oil, canola oil, or peanut oil are all great options, whereas olive oil and butter have lower smoke points. The ideal temperature for frying chicken ranges from 350˚ to 365˚F. Ensure you bring the oil back to temperature between each batch.
To Brine or Not to Brine?
Our favorite method for making fried chicken involves a buttermilk brine. Create a buttermilk brine or use straight buttermilk (you can customize it with your favorite hot sauce). Let the chicken sit in the mixture for a few hours or overnight. This step not only tenderizes the chicken but also adds a delightful burst of flavor.
Essential Equipment for Frying Chicken
You probably already have everything you need to fry chicken at home. While Southern cooks often rely on a cast-iron skillet, if you’re new to frying, a deeper option may be more suitable. Consider using a Dutch oven – it conducts heat well and has higher sides to contain the oil. Having long tongs on hand is essential for adding and removing the chicken from the hot oil while minimizing splattering. It’s also beneficial to have two types of thermometers: a deep-fry thermometer or candy thermometer to test the oil temperature and a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the cooked chicken.
Safety First: Frying Chicken at Home
When deep-frying chicken, it’s best to plan ahead to avoid any last-minute reaching or scrambling. Set up a designated frying station. Fill your Dutch oven with oil and attach a deep-fry thermometer before turning on the heat. Prepare your chicken, bread it, and have it ready to go. Then, use long tongs to carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil and remove it from the oil, keeping your hands as far away from the oil as possible.
How Long Does It Take to Fry Chicken?
Preparing fried chicken is an excellent weekend project that requires a few hours to complete, or even longer if you choose to brine overnight. The good news is that most of the time is hands-off, allowing you to focus on other tasks.
Serving Perfectly Fried Chicken
After frying, allow the chicken to drain for at least 10 minutes. Arrange it on a rack set over a paper towel-lined baking sheet to catch any excess oil and ensure proper airflow, preventing the chicken from becoming soggy. Fried chicken pairs wonderfully with traditional Southern sides like slaw, sautéed greens, mashed potatoes, biscuits, or cornbread. However, the choice is yours – you really can’t go wrong!
For more delicious recipes and cooking tips, check out Family Cuisine.