Fried Chicken by Alex

July 7, 2020

Two summers ago I listened to a podcast about fried chicken and promptly pulled an Alex, which is where I scour every (free) thing I can get my hands on, combine all the things that sound great to me, and make my own "perfect" version of that thing. This has happened with ice cream, Thanksgiving turkey, and chocolate chip cookies so far. The fact that I am a vegetarian is not relevant to this post. The fact that I'm a major know-it-all is.

This recipe doubles well if you're feeding a crowd!

Before we begin, you will need:
– A buddy. The frying is WAY easier with a second set of eyes to watch the temperature. And friends are fun.
– A candy thermometer that can hang out in the frying oil and let you know when to adjust the heat. The oil temperature is the non-negotiable key to success of fried chicken.
– Some chill. I am known for getting worked up over this recipe. Try to be cool.

And now, the recipe:




ALEX’S FRIED CHICKEN


STEP ONE: SEASON AND BRINE

For 6-8 breast tenders (3-4 whole breasts, each cut in half):
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 5 T (heaping) Lawrys or other steak seasoning (if using a salt-free one, add 2 T salt)
- 2 T black pepper
- 2 T chili powder
- 1 T garlic powder
- 2 t oregano
- 3 or 4 T brown sugar

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Rinse and pat dry each piece of chicken. Generously coat each piece in the spice mixture and lay in a casserole dish, side by side. Pour buttermilk (about 2 cups, could be more or less) over the chicken pieces so they are fully submerged. Refrigerate 2-8 hours.



STEP TWO: FRY

I loosely follow this recipe from The Splendid Table.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon baking powder
About 2 quarts peanut oil

Whisk flour, cornstarch, granulated garlic, baking powder, pepper, and salt together in large bowl. Add about 2 tablespoons water to flour mixture; using your fingers, rub flour mixture and water together until water is evenly incorporated and shaggy pieces of dough form.

Working with 1 piece at a time, remove chicken from brine, letting excess drip off completely; if the meat is too wet with buttermilk, the breading won't stick. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, pressing to adhere.

Set a wire rack over a plate lined with a triple layer of paper towels where the finished chicken will rest. 

Add oil to large Dutch oven (or other large pot) until it measures about 2 inches deep. Heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees (gotta have that candy thermometer). Add 3-6 tenders to the pot, filling but not crowding the pot, and fry until breasts register 160 degrees and drumsticks/ thighs/ wings register 175 degrees, about 12 minutes for the first batch, and less time for following batches (use a meat thermometer to check interior temp of meat – safe temp is 165). Adjust burner to maintain oil temperature between 315 and 350 degrees. Be sure to flip each piece over about 5 minutes into frying.

It’s challenging to keep a home stovetop at a consistent temperature, so watching the chicken pretty closely as it fries will prevent overdone or underdone pieces. Your buddy will be very helpful here.

(I’ve also read that you can fry at 310 for 25 min and it will be perfect every time, so go figure!)

Transfer chicken to prepared rack. Let chicken drain on each side, then move to a serving dish. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken. 

*If you happen to run out of the flour mixture before you run out of chicken, the chicken will still turn out delicious–though different–without breading. Simply let the excess brine drip off and add to frying oil; fry as normal.)



STEP THREE: SAUCE (optional)

I loosely follow the Splendid Table recipe referenced earlier. I also sometimes skip the sauce!

3/4 C hot sauce
5 T Worcestershire sauce
3 T peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 C maple syrup or molasses
1 T cider vinegar
1 t salt (if desired)
Adjust amounts of syrup and hot sauce to taste — I prefer spicier, Nate doesn’t like spicy, but this sauce is very easy to edit to your preference.

Whisk all the ingredients together in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute. Spoon over chicken immediately before serving.


ENJOY!


iPhone photo of our new Fourth of July tradition: Alex's fried chicken. We skipped the sauce this time because kids. Crowd: pleased!