Fried Chicken

January 05, 2010
Fried chicken (also referred to as Southern Fried chicken) is chicken which is coated with flour, a breading mixture or batter and then deep fried, pan fried or pressure fried. The breading adds a crispy crust to the exterior. The chicken itself may be chicken pieces on the bone with skin, or boneless and skinless pieces, usually breast meat, as in chicken fingers.

There are many methods which are used to fry chicken.

A pressure fryer is often used, as this is the quickest method of preparation. The water inside the chicken becomes steam and escapes through the oil in a sealed chamber, increasing the pressure and lowering the cooking temperature needed. The steam also cooks the chicken through, but still allows the piece to be moist and soft inside the crisp batter or other coating.

Pan frying requires a frying pan and an amount of oil that may vary by recipe and technique, from a quarter inch to halfway up the chicken pieces. In a common technique, chicken is shaken in a paper bag with flour and spice, and you can use other seasonings such as ranch dressing mix which can be mixed with flour. A popular seasoning for fried chicken is paprika. The chicken is then placed in the hot pan and fried, turn chicken every ten to twelve minutes for a even brown color. Chicken is done when thermometer reads 180 degrees. Never leave frying chicken unattended.

Pan fried chicken generally takes substantially longer to prepare than deep fried or pressure fried chicken. Restaurants offering traditional pan fried chicken often specify a wait of fifteen minutes or longer.

Deep frying is the most common in commercial settings. This type of frying usually uses batter coatings.

1 broiler/fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups low fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
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 degrees F. Do not allow oil to go over 325 degrees F.

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. More importantly, the internal temperature should be right around 180 degrees. (Be careful to monitor shortening temperature every few minutes.)

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, especially if it's a gas oven.