Sometime in the not-too-distant future, I think I’d like to fry some chicken. Now, I consider myself a decent cook; but fried chicken isn’t really in my repertoire. It’s different every time I make it, since I haven’t settled on a recipe yet. The last time I made it I did it to use up a couple of boneless thighs that were in the freezer. That doesn’t really count. The last time I fried the typical collection of chicken parts, I did it this way:
I dusted the parts with cornstarch, dipped them in a beaten egg, and dredged them in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and maybe a couple of other things. I used my cast-iron chicken fryer – basically your standard skillet with slightly deeper sides, and a basting lid. The chicken tasted good, but the coating got a little over-done. There seems to be competing parts of the equation. The oil needs to be hot, or else the coating will absorb it and be too greasy. But the breasts were rather large and needed to be cooked longer, resulting in over-done coating. So realising that ‘proper’ chicken-frying is a contentious issue, I have two questions:
[ul][li]The preparation. I do not like buttermilk, so I don’t have it in the house. I’d rather not buy it just so that I can use a small amount for chicken and then throw the rest away. Aside from that: Season the chicken, or season the coating? I’ve seen shows where people season the chicken parts with salt and pepper, and don’t seem to do anything to the flour. I’ve always seasoned the flour, but not the chicken. Which is better, and what seasonings should be used? (I use salt, pepper, a dash of cayenne, and sometimes other things.) Cornstarch to help the coating stick, or no? Milk in the egg wash, not no? Should it be cornstarch, egg wash, flour, and into the fryer? Or cornstarch, egg wash, flour, egg wash, flour, and into the oil?[/ul][/li][ul][li]Cooking. Legs and wings cook fine. What about the larger pieces, especially the breasts? Ten minutes per side cooks the meat to the bone, but the coating comes out a bit dark. How do I get a golden crust and the meat fully cooked?[/ul][/li]While I’m at it, how do I make chicken gravy? If I roast a chicken, I use the drippings and use my usual (successful) gravy-making technique. Frying chicken gives you lots of nice scrapings, but it just seems a little weird to use cooking oil as gravy fat; so I’ve never tried that.