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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bon Appetit Magazines Best Fried Chicken Recipe

I chase recipes.  I get on these kicks where I have to figure out to make the best of something, whether it's smoked spare ribs or kung pao chicken.  And while I've been able to crack the code on most recipes I've gone after, fried chicken has eluded me.  That's why I was so excited to see a giant fried chicken drumstick on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine.

Looking good!

Is there such a thing as gourmet fried chicken?  Mom's have cooked fried chicken for generations and there was nothing to it.  The old school recipe was 1) cut up a chicken, 2) dredge in flour, 3) fry until done.  Well, try that recipe and I guarantee an epic fail!  Somehow the fried chicken scrolls were lost and the gene destroyed.  Fried chicken went from a Sunday standard to a fast food mess.  Now don't get me wrong, I love KFC and will even stoop to supermarket fried chicken and as recently as five years ago was seen with - gasp - Banquet frozen fried chicken.  But none of it was as good as Mom's.

The recipe I've gone to in the past couple of years is from Giada, the FoodTV chef with the big head and big boobs.  It's a lemon and olive oil brine'd chicken called Pollo Frito and it's pretty darn good - but it's not traditional fried chicken.  And, sorry Giada, but it fails the next day crunch test,  turning all soggy and a touch greasy after cooling down.  Nonetheless, it's a good alternative and cool to serve up fried chicken with wedges of lemon.  We've also tried Thomas Keller's (of The French Laundry) fried chicken recipe, the one that has people forking out $55 a plate for, and thought it was a lot of work for rather ordinary results.  Of course, I'm NOT Thomas Keller so it was probably more my fault than his recipe.  So let's try this one from Bon Appetit.


2 Tbsp kosher salt, divided
2 tsp plus 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
One 3 to 4 pound chicken cut into 10 pieces, or equivalent weight of parts (drumsticks and thighs and wings sound great!)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Peanut Oil for frying (well, I used vegetable oil but if you have peanut, use it)

STEP ONE:  Prepare the seasonings
Whisk 1 Tbsp salt, 2 tsp black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic and onion powder in small bowl.  Season chicken and put in a bowl and cover overnight.  Overnight???  OK, so if you don't want to wait all night for your fried chicken, 3 to 4 hours sitting in the fridge works just fine.  The idea is to get the spices and salt inside the chicken, not just on the surface, so time is your friend.
Getting ready to hit the oil

STEP TWO:  Let's Cook This Chicken!
When ready to cook, take chicken out and let it stand covered at room temp for an hour.  Pour oil into  a 10" to 12" cast iron skillet (not non stick) to a depth of about 3/4 inches.  This is critical - you must use some sort of cast iron cooking vessel.  I used a Le Creuset "dutch oven" (aka big pot).  You need the thick pan/pot to regulate the heat.

Whisk the flour, cornstarch and the rest of the salt and pepper in a bowl.  Dip the chicken in buttermilk then dredge in the flour and cornstarch mixture.  No double dipping required.  Place chicken in oil and fry the chicken, turning it every couple of minutes.  Be careful the first time you flip that you don't knock all the breading off the uncooked side.  Use a thermometer and keep that oil in the 300 to 325 degree range.  Bon Appetit says it will take 12 minutes for thighs and breasts, 10 for wings.  Mine took around 18 minutes for thighs and a bit less for the drumsticks.  Use an instant read meat thermometer to check for doneness since raw chicken is not good eats, nor is overcooked and dried out chicken.  Go for 165 degrees internal temperature and check a couple of places on each piece to make sure it is done.

300 degrees.  Note that I did not crowd the pan.
STEP THREE:  Fry it up, drink a beer!
Figure it will take you about 20 minutes a batch so plan ahead if you are trying to time out a dinner.  You can place the done pieces in an oven at your lowest setting, 175 to 200 degrees, if you want to keep it warm while the others cook.  Place cooked chicken on a rack so it does not sit in its own drippings and stays nice and crisp.

Not a stock photo but the actual fried chicken I made!

This is it!  Super crunchy but without cheating like KFC by adding layers of breading.  Not greasy, extremely moist inside and well seasoned.  Just as good the next day cold, retaining a bit of the crunch and keeping all of its fried chicken integrity.

A bit of white beans with olive oil and a fresh watercress salad to accompany the fried chicken made a nice, fresh contrast.
  • No need to soak in buttermilk overnight!  In fact, soaking it is what makes the skin soggy.
  • No double breading to create the crust.  
  • No salting it right out of the oil.  No need as the chicken is already seasoned perfectly before it even hits the oil.
Best fried chicken ever, as Bon Appetit claims?  I have to agree with that one, and if you love fried chicken you need to try this recipe!


1 comment:

Mae Tyler said...

I agree with you, Wally, moms do tend to make the best food we’ve probably ever tasted. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try new things! Anyway, the chicken you made from the magazine recipe seem quite moist and crispy. It may seem difficult to achieve all that, but it seems that this recipe helps keep that balance in check. That, or you are just that good in cooking fried chicken. Anyway, thanks for sharing this with us. All the best!

Mae Tyler @ St. Andrew Poultry