Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sep 20: Fried Chicken

My earliest memories of eating fried chicken was in SF's Chinatown at a luncheon somewhere. The chicken had a flavorful, juicy, crispy batter crust. The chicken seemed to be infused with a nice flavor of garlic and ginger.

Also, the local chicken place was not a KFC, but a Pioneer Chicken.
I remember Pioneer Chicken had a battered crust and a lot of flavor.
Their logo looked like an Italian Chef wearing chef whites and chefs hat riding in a chuck wagon. The color scheme of the restaurant was orange. Orange?!?!
Yes, in the 70's orange was an in-color. lol!

This website popped up with Pioneer memorabilia. They all must have looked the same for I could swear that's how the neighborhood Pioneer chicken looked with the brickwork and the sloping windows.

My first bite into KFC was in high school. Back then KFC was still known as Kentucky Fried Chicken until Fried became a bad word. I thought the colonel's chicken was kind of bland, except for salt, and soggy.

Moving away to college and with the closing of Pioneer Chicken, that's when I went on my quest to perfect my fried chicken recipe.

For me, the key to fried chicken is obtaining a thick crispy crust. Making flavorful chicken is actually the easy part. It's the crust that has been more elusive. I've tried batters, different types of coatings and flour. For the most part, the flavor was their, but the crust just wasn't their for me.

In college, my roommates were the Guinea pigs. I've had roommates wake up in the middle of the night to eat the last pieces of chicken. lol... funny stuff.

After college, my fried chicken quest kind went to the wayside. I lost recipes from numerous moves, frying makes a mess, takes a lot of time to fry and people eating healthy.

A few years ago, I was watching Paula Deen on The Food Network. She was making fried chicken using self-rising flour. I gave it a try and the crust turned out really nice. Crunchy and has some thickness to it... so self-rising flour has been my go to coating when I make fried chicken.

Today, I make fried chicken. The basis is Paula Deen's Recipe: Southern Fried Chicken.

Fried Chicken
2 eggs
1/4 to 1/2 C Hot Sauce
2T Water
1/2 Chicken - half breast, thigh, drumstick and wing.
garlic powder
1 C flour
1 1/2 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Salt
1 t Cajun Seasoning
Oil for frying (I had soybean oil)

Hot sauce, eggs and chicken.

Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I didn't measure the amount. Season to your liking.

Beat the egg with 2 T of water and add the hot sauce. I added about 1/4 of hot sauce or until the mixture looks orange.

Add the chicken pieces to the egg mixture and let marinade.

Making self-rising flour is very easy. What makes self-rising flour self-rising is the addition of baking powder and a little salt. I added Cajun seasoning to add flavor to the flour.
Dump into a Ziploc and mix.

Heat a skillet or a pot with oil... 350F.
When the oil is about to reach temperature, add the chicken to the flour and coat thoroughly, as shown below.

Carefully place the chicken into the oil. I increased the burner to medium-high.
Cook 10 minutes before flipping.

The pieces are flipped and allowed to cook another 15 to 20 minutes.
Turn occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Total cooking time for these pieces was about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the chicken was cooking, the breast was sliced into "fingers"/"nuggets" and placed back in the egg mixture to marinade.

Pieces dredged and coated.

Fry about 3 or 4 minutes before flipping.
After flipping fry another 3 or 4 minutes.

The finished chicken! Total cooking time was about 45 minutes.

For me the thigh piece is the best part of fried chicken. Stays moist and has a lot of flavor.

Overall, the chicken turned out nicely. Very nice, thick, crunchy coating.
A very nice flavor. The vinegary hot sauce adds a very faint tang and the Cajun season, plus the garlic powder, adds extra flavor.

I do usually add extra herbs and spices... my secret blend... but I wanted to keep the chicken very simple.

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