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How to Make Fried Chicken

Fine Cooking Issue 106
Classic Fried Chicken Photos: Scott Phillips
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Nothing says summer like a picnic basket full of crunchy, juicy fried chicken. This southern favorite tastes so much better made from scratch than it does coming from a bucket, and it’s surprisingly simple to prepare. Once the chicken pieces have been tenderized in a buttermilk marinade, they’re tossed with seasoned flour in a paper bag for even coating and extra flavor. Next, in a large, deep, heavy skillet that holds heat well (cast iron, if you have one), the chicken is pan-fried in hot oil—we use a deep fat/candy thermometer to ensure that the temperature is just right for a crunchy, golden crust.

Since the results are guaranteed to be finger-licking good, this may be the only fried chicken recipe you’ll ever need.

Need to Know

Brown bag it Shaking the chicken in a paper bag with seasoned flour coats the parts evenly and keeps the mess to a minimum.

Fry once This recipe calls for a small chicken so that all of the pieces fit in a large skillet and fry in one batch. It’s fine if the pan is crowded.

Partially cover Keep the chicken partially covered during the first half of frying; this helps maintain the oil temperature and holds in moisture so the chicken stays juicy and the coating gets crunchy.

Cook’s Tip

Don’t toss that frying oil—cool and strain out any crumbs and then refrigerate the oil in a large glass jar for up to six months. You can use it two or three more times.

Tool Kit – Have these kitchen essentials on hand before you start:

• Chef’s knife
• Liquid measuring cup
• Measuring spoons
• Dry measuring cups
• Large mixing bowl
• Large doubled brown paper bag
• Large wire cooling rack
• Large rimmed baking sheet
• Heavy-duty 12-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) with lid (you can use a baking sheet as a lid if necessary)
• Ruler (to measure oil depth)
• Deep fat/candy thermometer
• Tongs
• Instant-read thermometer


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