Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fried Chicken Done Right

One of the summer standards is fried chicken. There's nothing more mouth watering than crunchy,  and juicy pieces served on their own or with dipping sauces. How to make it? There in lies the big question There are many different ways,all good,all bringing out the best of the bird's flavor.

Sam Sifton wrote about this classic American recipe in his The Guide column in today's New York Times  Food section. It's one of the most debated recipes in our  history. There have been battles about what kind of coating to use and what's the best medium to fry it in. As he points out it starts with the bird itself.Usually a three or four pound chicken is the best for frying. It will yield up  to ten parts, two drumsticks, two wings two thighs and two breasts. This will satisfy four people. Chicken parts such as all wings or drumsticks can also be bought if there's a crowd to be fed. Breasts can also be bought on their on too. The next step is brining and there are many different types, all good. Novice home chefs can try a  basic brine, made up of only kosher salt and water.Chopped garlic, a few herbs and even sugar can be added to it. Many fried chicken aficionados swear by the buttermilk brine.It's a mix of four cups of fresh buttermilk, kosher salt and a good dose of freshly ground pepper. For a more unusual spin there is the pickle brine, a blend of just pickle juice, This is not crazy.It makes the bird super flavorful and juicy, Other brines include that Southern classic cola brine  which gives it a nice caramel color and sweetness along with cider that also produces a sweet, fallish flavor that would be great at any tailgating party.

What makes a great piece of fried chicken? The crust, of course! It  should be a starch or a batter. Some home and professional chefs first dip the pieces in buttermilk, eggs or milk before coating. The easiest breading method is placing the chicken in a large paper bag filled with flour seasoned with salt , pepper, and possibly paprika and /or hot pepper. This can be varied with gluten free flour, cracker crumbs and even potato starch. For a more tempura flavor use the Japanese breadcrumbs called panko.  The more wild and adventurous  will use crumbled Doritos, Cheetos or even potato chips. Close the bag . shake and then shake off the excess flour. A big bowl can also be used for dredging the pieces, Stick with tradition for the frying pan.It has to be a heavy wide skillet with a lid.It should be eleven to twelve inches in diameter and deep to prevent spattering.The second most important ingredient is what the chicken is fried in. Some use lard while others prefer oil. What is needed is an oil with a high smoke point which means it can be heated to a high temp without smoking. The best for this is peanut , canola and vegetable oil. Do not use butter or olive oil. It can be served with dipping sources such as a Korean chili sauce or  a Filipino one made with maple syrup , lemon juice , fish sauce and chilis.

Fried chicken is an American classic recipe that everyone loves. There are so many ways to make it. Any way is good, full of golden , delicious crisp goodness.

No comments: