first_img 81 Views   no discussions Share Tweet Share Conde Nast Digital StudioLet’s put the debates to rest. Perfect fried chicken–golden brown, with a flaky-crisp crust and juicy meat–is easily accomplished at home. Here’s how to achieve irresistible goodness every time, from the ultimate spice rub to a delicate dredge. (And yes, the pan you use matters, too.)Hunter Lewis, Bon Appetit We could go on for days singing chicken-fried hallelujahs to comfort food’s holy grail, but sentimentality won’t get you a crunchy, superbly seasoned bird. Our guide to the right ingredients, technique, and tools will. So put on your apron, grab a cast-iron skillet and a cold one (lemonade, sweet tea, beer-your call), and let’s start frying.1. The Bird: Think Smaller Fried chicken was traditionally a spring dish in the South, and the young chickens used were dainty compared with today’s hefty birds. To approximate those pared-down poultry, cut a three- to four-pounder into ten pieces, or use the equivalent weight in thighs, drumsticks, and breasts. (If you fry anything larger than four pounds, the crust will burn before the meat has cooked through.) Promote even cooking by halving the breasts, then cutting them crosswise. Antibiotic- and hormone-free or organic chickens are worth the expense. It’s not like frying is an everyday affair, so start with a good bird.2. The Rub: Keep It Kosher When it comes to seasoning your bird, Linton Hopkins, chef at Atlanta’s Restaurant Eugene, says to break with tradition and forget about the buttermilk brine: “The danger of brining in buttermilk is that you never get the skin crisp enough.” Embrace the overnight dry rub instead. Kosher salt is the key: It keeps the meat juicy and carries the flavors of the spices to the bone. Our rub recipe goes spice-rack retro and calls for onion and garlic powders, which give the chicken an almost bacony meatiness.3. The Dredge: Do Not Double Dip! Now that the interior of your bird is seasoned, it’s time to address the surface. A good wash and dredge–that marriage of wet and dry ingredients–should complement, not bury, the skin. The loose buttermilk-egg wash imparts rich color and encourages the flour mixture to cling. A single dip accentuates the skin’s texture as the fat renders and the skin becomes crackling. This thin shell will fry up as a delicate layer: No fried chicken should suffer the indignity of a bulky overcoat with padded shoulders.1) Let the seasoned chicken come to room temperature. It won’t cool the oil as much when it hits the skillet, and it will cook more evenly. Meanwhile, set up your dredging station from left to right.2) A quick dip into buttermilk and egg sets up the chicken for a golden, craggy crust. Designate one hand as your wet-dip hand so you don’t turn yourself into a papier-mâché project.3) Using your dry hand, roll the chicken pieces in a blend of flour and cornstarch (the latter helps the flour adhere and promotes a good crust), then knock off any excess by tapping the chicken against the edge of the dish. “You want a rumor of flour,” says Scott Peacock, former chef of Decatur, Georgia’s Watershed restaurant and co-author with the late Edna Lewis of The Gift of Southern Cooking.4) Gently lower the pieces into 350° oil. 4. The Fat: Solve the Peanut Riddle Vegetable oil and shortening work just fine, but we love peanut oil, and we’re not alone. Dense, with a slightly earthy flavor and a high smoke point, peanut oil is “the lard of oils,” says Scott Peacock. Frying in peanut oil produces a lovely, mahogany-brown crust.Careful frying in shallow oil will render the fat from the skin, resulting in a coveted crust. But an excess of oil that remains while the chicken cools can translate to a greasy finish. The solution? Use tongs to lift each piece out of the oil and hold it at an angle for a good three seconds while the fat drips back into the pan. Transfer it to a rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet so air can circulate and keep it from getting soggy. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before digging in. Finally, if you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, don’t worry. The oil will shimmer slightly when it’s hot enough, and a piece of bread should bubble on contact and brown quickly.5. The Skillet: Cast a Little Black Magic A cast-iron skillet–inexpensive and basically indestructible–is the prized frying vessel for a reason. It retains heat better than most pans, which helps regulate the oil temperature and ensures even frying. If you don’t own one already, this recipe should provide ample motivation.6. The Finish: Give ‘Em More to Love This chicken doesn’t need any embellishments, but these sure won’t hurt. Rosemary Honey Tie 3 rosemary sprigs together with kitchen twine and use as a brush to slather this fragrant honey over everything from biscuits to chicken.Bring 1/2 cup honey, 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, 1 rosemary sprig, and a pinch each of salt and pepper to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes before serving. Dip the rosemary brush into the honey and use to drizzle over the chicken.Sichuan-Spiced Dipping Salt A little of this Chinese-style spiced salt goes a long way. Serve it in small bowls for dipping, or sprinkle it over fried chicken.Combine 2 Tbsp. each of Sichuan peppercorns, cumin seeds, and kosher salt in a small skillet over medium heat. Heat, stirring often, until spices are toasted and very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; let cool. Finely grind mixture in a spice mill or in a mortar with a pestle.Pepper Vinegar Southern cooks use their chile-infused vinegar to add a tart, floral kick to dishes like chicken or greens. You can also use it to wake up salad dressings. Customize it by adding bourbon or fruit liqueur and using your favorite chiles.Combine 2 cups distilled white vinegar, 2 dried chiles de árbol, and 2 Scotch bonnet chiles (or any of your favorite dried or fresh chiles), quartered lengthwise, in a 1-pint jar. Seal and shake. Let sit at room temperature for 1 week before using.A Couple Extras: Your No-Fuss Fried Chicken ToolboxBowl: Choose one large enough to hold all the chicken pieces and that has room for tossing with the spice rub. An airtight container works, too.Tongs: Long-handled tongs give you the reach you need to turn the chicken pieces as they cook. Frequent flipping encourages even browning.Skillet: A 10″-12″ cast-iron pan is just right for this recipe. If cooking more than one bird, use the same pan and work in several batches.Thermometer: Take the guesswork out of frying with a deep-fry thermometer. The chicken will cool the oil; adjust the flame as needed.Rack & Pan: Wire cooling racks aren’t just for cookies. The rack allows air to move around the pieces as they cool. The sheet pan catches any drips.Leftover Chicken? It May Be Even Better Than the Real ThingCold fried chicken is more than a slice of pizza you found in the fridge: It’s a dish unto itself. Growing up, all of the chicken I ate at Southern picnics, tailgates, and church potlucks taught me how to read a drumstick.I learned that a recipe’s merit shouldn’t be judged by how the chicken is right out of the skillet but by how it tastes the next day, after time spent cooling. Is the meat still juicy and flavorful? Is the crust fused to the skin, yielding the slightest crunch and toothsome tug? Was the grease drained properly? Answer yes to all, and you’ve done good.By bon appétit magazineYAHOOcenter_img Food & DiningLifestyle 6 Steps to Perfect Fried Chicken by: – January 30, 2012 Share Sharing is caring!last_img

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