You'll be surprised at how easy this popular comfort food is to make, and there’s even a low-fat way to make it!
Your fried chicken fix doesn’t have to come from a take-out window. You can make really great fried chicken that is crispy on the outside, moist on the inside and delights the taste buds…and you don’t need a commercial deep fryer to do it! Here are three simple and delicious options: deep fried, southern skillet and low-fat.
Get Ready To Fry
Frying literally means to ‘cook in fat’. Sounds a little unappealing, right? The best thing about making your own fried chicken is you control what ‘fat’ to use, whether it’s lard (rendered pig fat…yes, really!), solid vegetable shortening, peanut oil or a vegetable oil. Deep fried versions need a fat that tolerates high heat well, or has a high smoking point – like lard, shortening or peanut oil.
It’s best to use bone-in chicken for frying. Wash chicken and dry well to prevent spattering when the chicken hits the fat. Place thicker, meaty pieces in the pan first so they get a head start on cooking. And make sure not to crowd pieces too closely together. Now, get ready to choose your method!
Deep Fried Chicken
For a true deep-fry, use a heavy pot or fryer that can tolerate high heat and can hold at least three inches of your chosen frying fat. Electric fryers are expensive and usually end up in your appliance graveyard. A heavy-duty pot will do the trick with a lot less money and clutter.
Fill your pot with about 3 to 4 inches of fat and heat to 370 degrees F. Season chicken with a little salt, pepper and herbs of your choice. Poultry seasoning adds a nice flavor. Then mix together 1-1/2 cups flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoons salt and a dash of pepper. Beat together 1 egg and ½ cup milk and mix with dry ingredients to make a batter.
Using long-handled tongs, dip each piece of chicken in the batter and gently place in the hot fat. Don’t drop the chicken in or it may splatter! Cook until it has a crisp brown covering – about 10 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the pieces.
And that’s it! Deep fried chicken for a fraction of the cost of take-out.
Skillet Fried Chicken
This is a super easy way to make fried chicken that gives you a little extra time to make the rest of the meal, which is great when you are having guests for dinner.
Measure 3 tablespoons of your chosen fat into a skillet and heat over a medium-high heat. I usually use vegetable oil for this version.
Put ¾ cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a sealable bag. Add your chicken and shake. Place your chicken in the skillet and brown quickly, then reduce heat, add 1 cup water, and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to let the chicken fry slowly on low heat until ready to serve.
Low-Fat Fried Chicken
By removing the chicken skin but keeping the bone, you keep the flavor while reducing the fat. A cracker mixture replaces the original skin and adds crunchiness.
Pour one cup of buttermilk into a shallow bowl. Add pepper and enough Dijon mustard to suit your taste; a tablespoon should be enough. If time allows, place the mixture and the chicken pieces into a resealable bag and let it marinate in the fridge for an hour or two.
Place 30 saltine crackers in a resealable bag and crush them just enough to be left with coarse crumbs. Now add 4 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons potato flakes, and a pinch of basil and shake to mix.
After you are done coating or marinating the chicken in the wet mixture, put into the bag with the dry mixture and shake until each piece is well coated.
Pour ¼ cup vegetable oil into a skillet and heat on medium. Add chicken pieces and fry until golden brown. Smaller pieces will cook more quickly, so pay close attention and turn frequently. You’ll know when it’s close to done by the mouth-watering smell.
After cooking, place pieces on grease paper or a grill to allow extra oil to drain.
There are oodles of ways you can alter an old-school fried chicken recipe. What's your favorite method for really good fried chicken?