Chicken-Fried Chicken

Chicken-Fried Chicken

Did you buy buttermilk for biscuits and now you're looking for more ways to use it? Half a cup can go here...

So what IS chicken-fried? What I’ve learned is that you can have chicken-fried pork and chicken-fried steak. The basic premise being that you pound out the meat before dipping in buttermilk and dredging it through seasoned flour and frying in a shallow pan. It has nothing to do with chicken, specifically. 

Chicken-Fried Chicken
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
2 (8- to 10-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup vegetable oil, for frying

Before we handle raw chicken, let’s set up our dunk-and-dredge station. Pour half a cup of buttermilk in a large, shallow dish. And in another large shallow dish, pour flour, powdered sugar, salt, paprika, black pepper, baking powder, and ground mustard. Now whisk together well. And set aside.

Cut 2 chicken breasts in half horizontally. Chicken breasts aren’t even in their width so you really have to pay attention and do the best you can. It’s extremely helpful to have a sharp knife that can do the work while you focus on staying in the middle as much as possible.

Now place the slices between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or a ziplock bag and pound to an even thickness with a meat pounder, the bottom of a pan, or the bottom of a wine bottle. We’re looking to get to a quarter or a half inch of thickness.

When you’re done, you should season your chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.

Now set up a baking sheet next to your dunk-and-dredge station. Take a piece of chicken, dip it in the buttermilk, let the excess drip off, then dredge it in the flour mixture on both sides. Set the coated chicken on the baking sheet and repeat with the other pieces.

Heat 1 cup of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering but not smoking. In the meantime, set up another baking sheet with a wire rack over it.

When the oil is ready, we'll add 2 pieces at a time and fry them until they are golden brown and cooked through, which is about 2 solid minutes on each side. One thing to note about frying - when you add the food, it will cool down the oil, so I’ve turned up the heat ever so slightly on the pan to keep the oil at a good frying temperature. I can gauge the oil temp by the voracity of the bubbles around the food. You want the sizzle and the roar - just not the popping. That’s scary.

After 2 minutes, we will carefully and securely flip the chicken. After another 2 minutes, transfer them to the wire rack to cool and dry off.

I’m also going to wait a few minutes before adding the other breasts to let the oil get back to a crisp frying temperature. If you try to fry something in not-so-hot oil, the batter gets soggy and that’s when your fried food tastes dense and heavy. When you use really hot oil, it immediately crisps up the skin and creates a barrier, keeping the meat inside moist and the batter crunchy. Oh, and, if you thought adding powdered sugar to the flour was weird, it is, but it’s to help with the browning.

Oh, and one quick note about discarding oil! If it’s your first time using it, let it cool and strain it into a glass or thick plastic container, then store in dark place, like a bottom cabinet. When straining, we use a fine mesh strainer AND a paper towel to catch all the browned bits. With a good oil, it can be used up to 4 times before it starts to taste burnt, which will ruin your food.

When it’s time to throw out the oil, let it cool and pour it into a glass or plastic container, then throw it out. Don’t pour oil down the drain - it can cause problems way down the line. And some areas will have specific instructions for discarding cooking oil. Don’t skip the glass or plastic part. Do not risk the mess up pouring oil straight into a trash bag.

Original recipe here:

If you like frying, try this recipe for fried green tomatoes!

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