deep-fried heaven

The minute I got my February issue of Bon Appetit, I knew I had to make the cover – skillet fried chicken. The kind I have maybe once or twice a year. The kind that’s “oh so bad for you”, but a must have indulgence on occasion. A personal, Iron Chef kind of challenge and a first stab at frying at home. A messy endeavor, a not so nice cleanup and the lingering aroma of peanut oil – but, so worth the deep-fried wonder.

The suggested overnight rub mixture is genius, and true to the chef’s word – resulting in flavorful meat seasoned to the bone. Dipped in a mixture of buttermilk, egg and water and coated in seasoned flour, then carefully bathed in hot oil.

We had drumsticks and breasts on hand, so we worked with what we had. However, next time, I will make sure to have more drumsticks – the declared favorite among the kids and me. The tender, juicy dark meat and crispy, brown skin are indulgence at its best. And, there’s just something barbaric about picking up a drummy with your bare hands, eating the meat off the bone. Love bending the table manners. Everything goes out the window here on no eating with your hands or don’t pick at your food… (My sister would love that one too, right K?) The chicken breasts were also very yummy. Yes, the chicken tastes great immediately after being fried, but cold fried chicken is just as good. Mmm.

OK, some essentials are key here. Did I say this was messy? Yes… and then some. I covered the kitchen floor with old towels (to catch most of the splattering grease, and make clean-up a little easier.) I also draped kitchen towels around the nearby surroundings – countertops, cabinets. Aprons are also encouraged. Other essentials: a set of metal tongs, a large cast iron skillet, a deep fat fry thermometer, an instant read thermometer, plenty of peanut oil, a wire baking rack set on top of a large cookie sheet. We set our oven temp at about 275 degrees to keep the chicken warm once it was fried, and to be sure the meat was cooked through, as we fried 3 separate batches. Amazing. You must try it yourself.

I’m still searching for remedies to rid the frying smell in the house, so let me know if you have any tried and true secrets… already tried boiling vinegar/water mixture – nada.

Skillet-fried Chicken
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3–4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)

• Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.

• Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2″ baking dish.

• Pour oil into a 10″–12″ cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4″. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

• Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12-15 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.

• Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

• Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Thanks Bon Appetit!

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