Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I may have conquered fried chicken

As a kid I watched my Mother make hundreds of skillets of fried chicken; but, as is the case with kids, watching isn’t always paying attention to detail.

There’s the cut up chicken, some salt, pepper, flower, milk and in my Mother’s world, Crisco.

Crisco into the skillet, turn up the heat (to what?). Dip the chicken in the milk, salt and pepper and then dredge the pieces in the flour. Let it fry for a while, take it out, put it on a rack. Eat wonderful, somewhat greasy pieces of chicken – thighs and legs for me and my brothers and my Dad, the breast for my Mother.

As I grew older, the greasy part became more and more unappetizing. Equally unappetizing is dry. But the middle ground eluded me.

Grease is eliminated by proper oil temperature (canola, not Crisco) until the chicken gets to the right internal temperature, eliminating over-cooking, which always seems to be hit and miss with me. Dry, it turns out, is avoided by brining the chicken for an hour or two. That solved, I returned to the grease and over-cooking problems.

Were my Mother around, she’d look at me with a loving look on her face. You heat the oil till it’s ready and cook it until it’s done, she’d say. But how hot, how long?

I broke down and bought a temperature probe. Oil goes to 335. About eight minutes on each side till the smallest piece is about 160. Take it out, then the rest. Carry over takes them all to perfect done. No grease, no dry, no over-cooking. Better than most restaurants.

You can chuckle, it’s OK. But I’m feeling pretty good.


Red said...

Chuckle yes. I have never kept time on cooking my bird, I just cut a piece and when it no longer is pink, it is done.

flip once when the edges are brown.

Oil temp? On electric stove about 6 on gas stove about 3/4 the flame.

Hope it works out well. Sounds yummy.

Jeni said...

Thanks for the cooking pointers here Dave. Fried chicken is not high on my "to do" list mainly because I can never get it to cook right for me. Will have to remember the temps and stuff you stated here.
Peace and happy eating!

Wendy said...

Good for you! Continuing to
presistantly attempt something that sometimes doesn't work out shows great character! Bravo!

So when will the full cook book come out, I think it could be a big success. I am always trying new recipes, I would buy it.

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

My issue with fried chicken is all the leftover oil/grease after. I suppose purists would say keep it for frying the next batch, but I can't keep sludge around here. And there's just something incredibly gross about discarding that much oil/grease.

Oh, and yeah, I tend to deep fry my chicken, rather than pan frying it.

I have the same problem with letover oil after frying a turkey. Which I have only done a couple of time.

Dave said...

In order of appearance:

335 was about medium low on my electric stove.

Jeni, do not, DO NOT, pay any attention to my cooking posts.

Wendy, same thing.

Pos, your grease thing brought back memories of my Mom and the coffee can sitting on the stove that held the residual grease. It was a constant, dripping a bit into vegetables, a meat that didn't exude fat, and so on.

As to dumping the grease, it's biodegradable or close, down the drain it goes.

Life Hiker said...

I pan-fried walnut-crusted flounder for dinner tonight. Getting the saute time right is the hardest part, just like for fried chicken.

Dave said...

LF, I wouldn't even try to saute fish, the best I can do is put a dab of butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and throw it in the microwave.

SonjaB said...

Grease is the best part of good Southren Chicken.

Of course husband and I can't get it right either.

Debo Blue said...

I can't fry bologna, I certainly can't afford to mess up a perfectly good chicken by trying to cook it.

I too remember my mom cooking endless skillets of fried chicken and saving the grease in the Crisco pan on the stove. Never w/a temp gauge.

Times changed and Wesson replaced Crisco until finally, no fried chicken because of the fat and grease content.

But my sister can fry a chicken like she was the Colonel's niece! But, those days are too few due to the width and girth of our hips.

hereinfranklin said...

Despite my Southern roots, I can't fry chicken worth a damn and just get it from Publix when the mood strikes. Also, I can't make ice tea for the life of me. I can, however, make a cheese souffle from scratch without once looking at a recipe. But I do wish I could fry chicken.