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Crispy Fried Chicken with Old Bay Aïoli

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Serves 4 to 6

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 120

Using boneless, skinless thighs, you can make batter-fried chicken that tastes like traditional fried chicken (crunch and all) yet cooks up quickly. Baking powder in the batter makes it light and crisp.

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lb.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 4 cups peanut or vegetable oil
  • 5-1/2 oz. (1-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning; more as needed
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season with 1-1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper, and let sit at room temperature while you heat the oil and prepare the batter.

Pour enough oil into a Dutch oven or other wide heavy-duty 6-quart pot to measure 3/4 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers 375°F on a deep fat/candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 tsp. of the Old Bay, the baking powder, cayenne, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, 1/4 cup oil, and 1 cup water. Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture until completely smooth.

Working in batches of 3 or 4, dip a chicken thigh into the batter, gently shake off any excess, and carefully lower it into the hot oil. Repeat with 2 or 3 more thighs, leaving about 1 inch of space between each thigh. Cook, turning once or twice, until golden-brown all over and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thighs registers 165°F, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adjusting the heat as necessary.

While the chicken cooks, peel and chop the garlic, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and mash to a paste with the side of a chef’s knife. Transfer to a small bowl and combine with the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and the remaining 3/4 tsp. Old Bay. Season to taste with more lemon juice or Old Bay and serve with the chicken.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 500; Fat (g): fat g 37; Fat Calories (kcal): 330; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 7; Protein (g): protein g 24; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 16; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 16; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 570; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 110; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Made this for dinner and it got rave reviews, especially for the crunchy coating, moist dark meat and delicious sauce. I replaced a substantial portion of the mayo in the "aioli" with yogurt for a bit more tang. The recipe would work even better with a nice bit of white fish. One quibble-- although this recipe is purportedly fast, having to fry the chicken thighs in batches makes it quite a process. If you're going to spend the time and make the mess, you might as well make Classic Fried Chicken-- much tastier!

Not too many recipes have my husband telling me again and again how yummy it is. This is one of them. I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. I'd probably cook them an extra two to four minutes; they were a bit pink after only seven minutes. I prepared the aïoli ahead of time to give the flavors time to meld. Not a lot of work. A definite keeper!

I picked up Fine Cooking yesterday at Whole Foods and this recipe looked so good, I made it last night for dinner. Recipe produced extra crispy, flavorful chicken. Dipping sauce was rich, we also used some of our favorite hot sauce. Good foundation recipe too - if you don't like Old Bay (we loved it!) another spice combination could be used. I wondered how the leftovers would be - I reheated in the convection oven at 425 and the chicken coating is once again crunchy. This one is a winner - so good, I subscribed to the magazine!

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