Do you fancy yourself as health conscious? Are you the type of person who feels virtuous for shopping at Whole Foods? Stop reading now, because this is fried chicken. I was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga., so when I say “fried chicken”, what I mean is “FRIED CHICKEN.” Like when Gerard Butler yelled “This is Sparta!,” but replacing the Sparta part with “fried chicken.
If you want great fried chicken, I see two options in procuring a positive outcome.
Option A: You drive to Georgia, and find a proper fried chicken joint. Basically, what you do is drive until you see a restaurant that has a lit sign that says “Fried Chicken”– and keep driving. Eventually, you’ll see a small place that looks something like a diner, but a little more run down. Out front, you’ll see one of those do-it-yourself lettered signs reading “Fried Chicken Plate” or some derivative of that. You don’t want to be there either. Keep driving until you get way the fuck out in the middle of Georgia. There, you’ll find a place with a hand-painted sign, usually with incorrect spelling like “CHIKIN.” Great fried chicken happens where education parts ways with health, and sprinkles in a little abject poverty for flavor. What I mean to say is…
Option B: You make your own damn fried chicken, because it’s cheap, amazing, and delicious.
Everything you’ll need for this recipe can be found at Wal Mart, and everything is cheap. One time, I met an asshole who tried to regale me about “gourmet” fried chicken, so I karate chopped that motherfucker in the throat. Homey don’t play that.
8-10 chicken legs and thighs
4 cups of milk
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of sea salt (or kosher salt)
4 tablespoons of white vinegar
SPICES – Pause please for a quick spice break…
Spices can mean a lot of things. Personally, I go with red pepper, a mad dash of Allspice, some black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and a little cumin. What you make of your spices is up to you. I will emphasize that you use SPICES, and not herbs. Do not attempt to sully the flavor of this fried chicken with herbs, you asshole. Anyway, let’s continue…
1 Tub of Crisco Vegetable Shortening (for frying, duh)
1 bag of flour (I’m not sure of the measurement here. Maybe a cup or two?)
1 cast iron skillet
2 large-ish bowls
1 semi-large container with a lid (big enough to hold all the chicken)
The rack from your oven, and a cookie sheet. (Or, one of those fancy cooling racks. But those cost money, so fuck that.)
Let’s Do This Shit
Step 1: Get your big container and combine two cups of milk, one cup of water, 1/4 cup of salt, and 4 tablespoons of vinegar. Mix it with a spoon, a whisk, a fork, or whatever is nearby. Get freaky and use the salad tongs–I don’t give a fuck. Just mix it all up.
In cooking terms this is sort of like a brine, except I have added milk and vinegar. The resulting product is a very watery buttermilk and brine mixture–the perfect home for chicken. Now get your chicken pieces and put them into the container with the milky brine. Put a lid on that motherfucker and put it in the fridge for one whole day. Oh, you wanted fried chicken right now? Too fucking bad, because making it the right way means giving the chicken some alone time with the milk.
Step 2: It’s been one whole day, so take your chicken out of the fridge, pull it out of the milky mix, and put it on a plate. Discard the milky mixture. Now it’s time to season this goddamn chicken. Take your spices and liberally coat all sides of the chicken with spices–as much or as little as you like. Just give it a good rub down, like those women do at the massage place if you ask for a “magic massage.”
Step 3: At this point in the cooking process, you should probably prep your stove for frying chicken. It’s pretty damn simple, actually. Put your iron skillet on a large burner, and then turn it to the medium setting. It doesn’t matter if you have a gas or electric stove. Medium is the setting, because on most stoves, that’s going to be somewhere between 300F and 325F–and that’s the temperature you cook chicken at. Scoop in enough shortening to fill a little less than half of the skillet after it has melted down.
Step 4: Get one of your large bowls, and break your egg into it. Beat the hell out of the egg with a fork, salad tongs, whatever, and then add two cups of milk. Mix the beaten egg and milk together until it’s all mixed up. Then, get another bowl, and fill it with a cup or two of flour. Just dump some in until it looks like you have enough flour in the bowl. If it turns out you didn’t add enough to dredge your chicken, just add more later. No big deal.
Step 5: Take one of your awesome, spice covered chicken pieces, and toss it around in the flour. Once it is coated pretty well in flour, dunk it quickly in the egg and milk mixture bowl. Pull it out[ref]That’s what she said![/ref] and put it back in the flour. Toss it around a bit more. What you’ll end up with is a piece of chicken that is ready to fry.
Step 6: Is the oil hot enough? This is a big deal, because I’m assuming most people don’t have fancy thermometers in their kitchen. The only one I have is a meat thermometer, so how the fuck do you know if the oil is hot enough? I mean, if the oil isn’t hot enough, it’s going to fuck up the whole thing. Generally speaking, I give the shortening about 12 minutes to heat up, using the timer on my phone. A good test is to get a little water on the tips of your fingers, and drip a tiny bit into the oil. If it pops, fizzles, and makes generally dangerous “oil fire” sounds, it’s ready to go.
Step 7: Gently place the chicken into the iron skillet. It’s going to start frying immediately, bubbling, etc. This is all normal. My iron skillet can hold about five pieces of chicken at once, so you’ll probably go through this process in three or four rounds. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 with all your chicken pieces. Each piece of chicken needs to cook 10 minutes on each side, so once it has cooked for 10 minutes, flip it over to the other side. The chicken should be that magical “golden brown” color everyone seems to overuse. Use a food thermometer if you have one, and make sure it reads 180F. Technically, I think poultry is safe at 165F, but you want it a little firmer, because it’s finger food.
Step 8: Drain the chicken. This is where your oven rack and cookie sheet come into play. Place your oven rack on top of a cookie sheet, and then place the chicken directly on the rack, so it can drip the excess oil down, and cool a bit.
Is it really that simple? Not really, in fact, you need to remember a couple things about science.
Frying Notes: The iron skillet is going to transfer heat towards the middle of the pan, so you’ll want to put your biggest pieces in the middle, with your smaller pieces around the edges. After each round of chicken is done cooking, you’ll want to turn the heat up to medium high for about two minutes, just to get your shortening back up to temperature. Once it’s a little hotter, turn your heat back to medium. Why do you do this? Because the chicken you’re going to put into the shortening will cool down the oil, so you want to plan ahead for this.
Dredging Notes: You don’t want too much excess flour sticking to the chicken, understand? Give it a good shake and make sure all the excess is off the chicken. If you have too much flour, it will fall off when it’s frying, and end up burning up on the bottom of the iron skillet, and it will make your chicken skin taste bitter.
Leftover Notes: This is going to make 3-4 servings, so if you can’t eat it all, no worries. Put it in some tupperware, or any old container with a lid. When you’re reheating the chicken later, just remember one rule: Never, ever, ever–EVER motherfucker, put it in the microwave. It will be soggy and disgusting. Put the chicken on a cookie sheet, and heat at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Did you want to notch up the difficulty a bit? Let’s make a sauce to dip this chicken in–and let’s make it a spicy honey mustard sauce. Here is my quick, dirty honey mustard sauce recipe.
1 small bowl
Let’s Do This Shit
Basically, the recipe is two parts mayonnaise, one part mustard, one part honey, and as much Sriracha as you care to add. I like mine pretty damn spicy, so I go heavy like a bawse. You can mix it all up in a cereal bowl. It’s not complicated. I find spicy honey mustard really accents the flavor of this chicken the right way to my taste buds, but if you prefer another option, that’s fine too.
So there you have it. The best fried chicken ever, motherfucker.