Posted by johngl
I admit it, I’ve been struggling with my (fried) chicken for years … (I’ll let that image soak in for a sec): Batter is either too thick or too thin, tastes too eggy, separates from the flesh, burns too quickly, or never gets crunchy. But finally, salvation is at hand. Let us give thanks.
Actually, I have the folks at Cook’s Country to thank for this one as it was they who inspired this particular adventure.
The first thing you will need to do is select and prep your chicken parts. I selected boneless breasts. I mean really, who likes boney breasts?
Next, figure out your brine. Mine are soaked in fajita chicken seasoning, salt, and a bit of water. Soak them for a couple of hours or a couple of days; whatever you have time for. If you are really lazy, go down to your local grocer and pick out some plump, juicy, pre-soaked breasts. Almost all grocers have these now. Pick out whatever flavor you’d like. If they don’t have fajita, go with Italian.
This is the important part: the batter. This was easily enough to cover six breasts and probably would have been just right for eight. This dry mix is a half-cup of all-purpose flour, a half-cup of corn starch, two teaspoons of black pepper, a half-teaspoon of kosher salt, a half-teaspoon of hot paprika, a half-teaspoon of sweet paprika, a half-teaspoon of baking powder, and a quarter-teaspoon of pequin powder. Whisk this all together. Note: if you are using pre-soaked (marinated) chicken parts, you may want to cut back on the salt in the batter mix.
Time for beer!
I poured off just under a cup of beer. I poured the rest into my mouth.
Put the beer in the batter mix and whisk it all up. Put the beer in the batter mix and mix ’em both up. Put the beer in the batter mix, then you feel better. I say Doc-tor! < come on now, let’s move those hips a little! >
Sorry, I think this Casa Noble Reposado tequila I’m sipping is causing me to channel Harry Nilsson. Give me a sec.
Where was I…oh, yes, beer batter.
When you pour the beer into the batter blend, it foams up a bit. Roll with it and whisk it until it is smooth.
Enter, chicken. The batter is a little thin, so don’t go tossing the bird parts in there. Carefully, lay in the pieces, making sure you get them fully engulfed in that flavorful batter.
Make sure you allow the excess batter to run off the chicken. Give it a shake or two (the chicken, I mean) to help this along.
I’m using my Lodge cast iron Dutch oven as a friar. I worship it.
This is a blend of peanut, vegetable, and olive oils. Why? Cuz it is what I had on hand. I didn’t have enough of any one of the lubricants, but combined, I was able to get the Dutch oven about half full. Get the oil to 350°F and keep it there.
Do not overfill your fryer with chicken (or oil for that matter) ! I can’t stress this enough. I have just two breasts in there. They stay in there until they float, about 12 minutes. If you didn’t allow your chicken to get to about 60°F prior to dipping in the batter, it will take longer. Cold chicken right out of the fridge will cool the oil significantly. If the food police has you all paranoid about leaving chicken out for even an hour to warm up a bit, you are beyond salvage.
Note that delicious golden-brown color?
The inside was beautifully done and still juicy. Note also how that crispy crust actually adheres to the chicken? Positively brilliant! Crunchy, juicy, salty, peppery. Oh. My. Dog!
I noticed a bag of Russet potatoes on the counter.
Four minutes later, one of them looked like this:
Nuked on High (amen), the skin was a little wrinkly.
Quartered, with steam still rolling off of it…
Two of the quarters went into the batter first, then into the fryer. The other two quarters went directly into the fryer.
That beautiful color came after a mere four minutes in the fryer.
These are the battered ones. Both came out crisp on the outside and moist and fluffy on the inside. The battered ones also came with a resounding crunch.
Let’s not forget some crumblies.
I took a couple of tablespoons of the left-over batter and drizzled it into the still-hot oil. I scooped them out about two to three minutes later.
This batter is it. After years of playing around, listening to a bunch of church elders, trying to use eggs, milk, buttermilk, corn flakes, Special K, rice flour, etc, etc, this one sticks, has great color, great flavor, and great Crunch! It’s a batter with some real soul.