I kid you not. July 6th? It's not just the day you finally yank out all the little flags and fish those streamers and bunting back out of your trellis. Not any more. July 6th is designated, y'all. July 6th IS National Fried Chicken Day.
I'll admit, I didn't fry chicken at home for years. I grew up eating the eponymous Colonel's version exclusively, so I was cooking for a long while before I took seriously the notion that anybody fried chicken outside a restaurant chain. Eventually as I applied my eager "I bet I can do that better at home" willingness to try my own hand at frying chicken, I bumped right up against all the usual stumbling blocks.
2) Oil. (see Time).
3)A desire to eat healthy. (OK, healthy-ER) (see Oil).
I solved my original issues by cutting skinless boneless chicken breasts into strips, then breading and frying those. The smaller pieces obviated the need for mass quantities of oil, at least initially shortened the cooking time involved, and by skipping the skin, partially addressed the desire to come up with a healthier version of the old stand-by.
I say initially shortened the cooking time involved because as I fine-tuned my technique, the chicken strips became such a family favorite that leftovers became a requirement. Soon it was routine for me to make double or even triple batches to assure a sufficient surplus. My time spent standing around bubbling vats of hot oil expanded past the point it would be offset by my love for family. Home fried chicken went back off the menu.
|I am the ghost of FriedChicken Future|
The results promised? A beautifully crispy crust, moist tender meat, and a less-than-Valdez level clean-up. Their technique uses less than 2 cups of oil rather than the 5 cups typically called for.
[Sorry for any inconvenience but I won't copy their recipe here. The Test Kitchen has narrowly drawn views about unauthorized sharing of content. Here is a link to their site where you can sign up if you wish to view all the details.]
I am mostly doing it their way. I have a package of skin on, bone-in chicken thighs currently sitting in a cup of buttermilk to which I added a tablespoon of regular salt over and above the usual seasoning suspects.
The additional salt elevates the buttermilk soak to BRINE status. That promises to work in combination with the lactic acid in the buttermilk to keep the meat moist while cooking. Past that, the Test Kitchen advises double tweaking the breading step by adding a bit of baking powder and then working in a bit of buttermilk to the seasoned flour prior to dredging. They promise the reaction of the baking powder to heat and resulting extra floury clumps in the breading will allow the birdy bits to achieve the crispiest crunchiest nuggetiest crust ever.
Chicken pieces are to be fried about 3-5 minutes per side until nicely browned, then finished for 15 or so minutes in a hot oven until the internal temperature reaches proper doneness (about 175 degrees because I am using all dark meat).
Will it work? I can barely wait to see. I'll update with a photo of the finished product later, but for now? I'm dreaming of a brown Fried Chicken Day, just like the ones I used to know.
Update post prep, fry, bake and eat: Best fried chicken I've ever made. Close to the best I've ever eaten. I forgot to put baking powder in the dredge and it was still the crunchiest so far. If all the Test Kitchen recipe and technique tips are this successful, I may break a rule and pay for recipes again.