Our Favourite Fried Chicken

If you are like Kevin and I, we don’t eat as much fried food as we used to.  But our love of fried foods still dwells within us!  The big difference being, that now, if we are eating something fried, it had better be good!  No longer do we settle for mediocre fast food fare to satisfy our cravings (though I will admit to a weakness for the onion rings at Carls Junior lately).   Mostly when we want something fried, we want the best darn fried food we can find, and for food snobs like us, that usually means making it at home.   

Enter Bon Appetit magazine and their recipe for southern-style fried chicken.   Originally published in 2012, I only discovered this recipe last year.   (Go ahead and make fun.  Food nerds like us are thrilled to have back issues that we can read at our leisure as many times as we like.)   The recipe actually calls for the chicken to be fried in oil stove top, so I balked at trying it for a long time.  Both Kevin and I, being career insurance people, know very well just how dangerous a pot of hot oil on the stove can be.  

However, their claim that this is “the only Fried Chicken recipe we will ever need” had us searching for a good deep fryer at every store we entered for the next 6 months.  This is not Canada, and while they are easy to find now, 3 years ago when we started looking, it was like hunting for hens teeth.

We eventually convinced ourselves that we live in a concrete house, with marble counters and finally, we talked ourselves into making this without a deep fryer!!  We should have videoed our first attempt, as I am sure all the precautions and worry we took were worth a sit com series but in the end, the finished product was well worth the effort and worry!   Juicy inside with a crispy crust, and the hot vinegar pulls it all together.

You will need to start the vinegar a week in advance, and the chicken does have to sit overnight, so there is some planning inovolved, but I promise you it will be worth it!   We are used to doing it stove top now, and are  happy with the results but if you prefer using a deep fryer,  just be sure that your oil is at the magical 350F before adding the chicken.  I am sure you will get the same results.    The real key to this is to use a smaller chicken and to let it sit in the dry brine over night.

I have tweaked the recipe a bit from the original, which you can find at www.bonappetit.com

Here is my version of Skillet Fried Chicken:
(serves 4, 1 serving is approximately 616 calories)

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 3 – 4 lb chicken cut into 10 pieces, back removed
1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 egg

3 cups flour
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 litre canola oil for deep frying (more or less, depending on size of your pan)

  • 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″ heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4″.  Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°.  You can try propping the thermometer in the pan, but I never have luck with that.  I just keep it close and check the temperature of the oil frequently.  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 up to 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry, turning chicken 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 breasts and 12 minutes for thighs and legs. 
  • 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.

    And voila, better than takeout any day!  Oh, and don’t forget the Spicy Vinegar!  

    1 cup white vinegar
    1 habanero chile
    1 serrano chile

    Slice chiles into quarters, lengthwise and place with vinegar in resealable jar.  Seal and shake.   Let sit at room temperature for 1 week before using, shake daily.  After that it will keep almost forever in the fridge.  

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