How To: Make the best fried chicken. Ever.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this here, but: true story, deep frying is my super power.

Most niche super power ever, I know.

Here’s an example of a scenario that actually happened, in case you don’t believe me: my mom begged me for the looongest time to tell her what I put in my onion ring batter to get them super fluffy and wonderful, and after an age I caved and told her.  But using the same batter, under the same conditions, with the same tools, mine still had more puff and crunch to the batter coating.  And no one can explain why.

I should get a cape, or something.

But with great power comes great responsibility (I was visited by the cliche fairy this morning) and I’ve decided that it’s my responsibility to try and share my skills with the world.  And so I present to you, Bee’s guide to the Best Fried Chicken.  Ever.

STEP ONE: Brine.

Salty chicken water, my favorite.

Salty chicken water, my favorite.

Want to know how to keep chicken moist?  You brine.  Mix up a quarter cup of table salt and two cups of water until the one dissolves into the other, and then sit your chicken pieces down in it and let them take a nice, long, salty bath.

I like to let mine sit for abooout a day; this round they sat in the fridge from about 5 AM to 5 PM, but I have done more and I have done less and my chicken still stays moist.  Tip for if you’re crunched for time: poke holes in your chicken with a fork.  (You don’t need to go more than a quarter inch deep.)

Before you fry, make sure you rinse the chicken and drain it.  Well.  Patting it dry may also be something you consider.

STEP TWO: Batter.

This batter works for everything, fyi.  You name it, this batter makes the perfect coating for when you inevitably decide to fry it.

The beer is not optional.

The beer is not optional.

It’s also really, really easy.  1 cup flour, 1 cup cornstarch, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and whatever spices you want on your chicken/fryable foodstuffs (I went simple today; paprika, black pepper, and salt).  Whisk it up a little, and then dump in some of that beer we talked about (you need it for the fluff and the body; club soda just doesn’t cut it).

Those bubbles are a very good thing.

Those bubbles are a very good thing.

I never, ever measure on this part.  You want to wind up with something the approximate consistency of pancake batter, so just kind of…pour and mix until you get that.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  This time I used the entire can of Yuengling; I usually use bottled Sam’s, though, and wind up with a quarter left to drink.  Who knows?

STEP THREE: Pre-Fry and Fry

Start with a biiig Dutch oven (if you haven’t noticed by now, I really really love cooking in Dutch ovens; they’re maybe the most useful things, ever.  And cast iron cooks better than anything else).  Fill it about two inches deep with the oil you’ve chosen to fry with (canola, vegetable, peanut, whatever you’re using) and crank your burner to heat it up.

You’ll hear it when it’s ready.  But if you’re keen on having a specific temperature guideline, shoot for the territory around 350.

Whoops!  I forgot the flour on this batch.

Whoops! I forgot the flour on this batch.

Now move to that that nice, dry chicken of yours.  Coat it very lightly in flour, and get ready for the messy part: battering.

(Using tongs will help, a little.  But after a few dips the batter on the tongs will cook, so you have to keep cleaning them in between dips.)

Dunk your chicken/fryables into the batter, turn to coat, and then plunk ’em right down in the oil that you were heating this whole time.   (Make sure they’re in a single layer and not touching each other, that’s pretty important.)  Turn the heat down to medium and let those babies sizzle.

Cooking time will obviously vary depending on the size of your pieces.  Onion rings take about three minutes, total.  Whole breasts will take about six or seven a side.  I cut these breast pieces into thirds, and wound up with about five for the first side and four for the reverse.  This is another one of those experience-tells-me-when-its-done-and-therefore-times-are-for-lesser-fryers situations, but I tried to keep an estimate in my head for y’all.

When everything looks nice and crispy, yank ’em, let ’em drip, and set them on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet to let any extra oil drip off.  You’ll want to keep them in the oven if you’re doing a second batch (300 will be good to keep ’em warm).

PART FOUR: Filling Your Stomach

How's that for a slice of fried gold?

How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

I don’t think I need to tell you how to do this part.  My only tip is to try not to cram it all down your throat at once; choking is something that no-one likes.

Mostly: enjoy your moist, better-than-sin fried chicken!  The beer is optional this time around, but really, what is fried chicken without it.

Question Time: any cooking super-powers in the house?

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