I’m back to writing about fried chicken because, really, who can think enough about fried chicken? Last night, I tried out Paula Deen’s fried chicken recipe to great success. You can see that the end product was quite golden and crispy. The inside was cooked through but was still juicy. I expected this chicken to be spicier because of the half bottle of hot sauce that I added to the egg mixture, but it wasn’t. I guess the brief swim through the egg before hitting the flour wasn’t enough to impart much of the hot sauce flavor.
The only complaint I have about my fried chicken was that it was a tad bit greasy. I know anything fried is a tad bit greasy, but I can’t help but wonder whether hotter oil in my cast iron Dutch oven would have made a difference. I don’t fry foods very often, but I’ve always heard that if your oil is hot enough without reaching the smoking point, the food fries without a lot of grease soaking into the food.
How to tell if the oil is hot enough? Well, it called for an oil temperature of 350 degrees. Various sites suggested various methods of testing the oil if you don’t own an oil thermometer, which I do not. One method was to flick a drop of water into the oil and see if it dances around and pops. Another is to toss a cube of bread into the oil and if it browns nicely in one minute, the oil is ready. A third is to toss in a pinch of flour. I used the first two methods.
Here’s another tricky part: Paula Deen said to cook the dark meat pieces for about 13 to 14 minutes and white meat for 8 to 10 minutes. Well, if your chicken breasts are the size of the ones I cooked, it’s going to take a LOT longer than 10 minutes. I even think her times on the other pieces is a bit low. Maybe 10 minutes per side, but certainly not 10 minutes total. If you are lucky enough to have a big enough pan to accommodate all of your chicken at once, remember to start cooking the biggest pieces first.
Finally, a wonderful tip: When you are frying chicken in batches like I did last night, set the oven to warm and place wire cooling racks in a cookie sheet. Then, as you finish frying pieces, put them on the racks. Not only will excess grease drain off, but the bottom of your chicken pieces will not get soggy and the chicken will stay warm until you are ready to serve it.
I have found that every fried chicken recipe I see is different in some way. Does anyone out there have a special fried chicken recipe that differs from the Paula Deen recipe? Any other practical tips to help out newbies like me when it comes time to fry up some chicken?