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Test Kitchen: Nothing beats a good piece of fried chicken

By Jessica Rodrigo
Aug. 7, 2013 at 3:07 a.m.

I made coleslaw and baked red beans to to go with my fried chicken, but the usual mashed taters and corn on the cob would have been equally as tasty.

Crispy, fried bird

Makes three to four servings

• 5-6 pieces of bone-in chicken, mixed

• 1 cup buttermilk (or heavy cream and 1 Tbsp. of vinegar)

• 1 Tbsp. granulated garlic powder

• 1 tsp. red chile flakes, optional

• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1/4 cup cornstarch

• 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooking oil

• Salt and pepper to taste

Pat chicken dry after defrosting/thawing completely. Place chicken in bowl or plastic bag and add buttermilk mixture with salt and pepper. Make sure each piece of chicken is completely coated. Let sit for at least an hour on the counter or overnight in the fridge. In a separate bowl, add flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, chile flakes, salt and pepper. When ready to cook, heat a cast iron skillet, heavy-bottomed pot or deep fryer over a medium-high to medium heat. Mix with a fork to distribute seasoning. If left in the fridge overnight, let the chicken get to room temperature before dredging in flour mixture. Without removing all the coating from the chicken, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture at least twice to ensure a thick coating. Dredge it in the flour, remove it and place it back in the bowl or bag and move on to the other pieces. Then dredge each piece in the flour again. Shake off the loose flour and gently drop the chicken into your oil. Let it cook for at least four to five minutes on each side, leaving enough space around each piece to allow the skin to get crispy. Rotate the chicken to achieve the desired doneness. If you want to use a thermometer, it should read at least 165 degrees. Once it's cooked thoroughly, remove the chicken from the oil and place on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil, leaving enough space around each piece to allow the skin to stay crispy.

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A good piece of fried chicken has crisp skin and a crunchy coating. The meat is cooked throughout but still juicy.

To achieve this stature of succulent, tasty poultry, there are a few things to remember.

If you brine your chicken or marinate it in buttermilk, it'll produce a juicy piece of bird. This goes for baking or grilling, too. A brined bird is a happy bird.

You always want to cook it long enough to get that brown coating everyone is looking for.

For a crispy skin, you have to leave enough space around the chicken pieces as they fry - a crowded pan will steam the coating, so it won't have a chance to get crunchy. Unless you have a deep fryer - that'll do the trick nicely.

Defrosting the chicken and leaving it out to reach room temperature helps when cooking it, too. Rather than frying a piece of chicken that is fresh out of the fridge, give it a chance to warm up before dropping it in hot oil. This way, the meat nearest to the bone has a chance to come to a high enough temperature (about 165 degrees).

The coating is also an important factor. If there is not enough flour, you won't get that crunchy coating. Remember to also season your coating mixture. Salt and pepper are your friends, along with granulated garlic, red chile flakes or herbs.

You can also mix half corn meal with flour. For more of a grainy texture in my recipe, I add a bit of cornstarch. I've worked at restaurants where they've deep-fried calamari in cornstarch, and it produces a gorgeous color and wonderful texture.

Have a recipe or a dish you want my to try? Email me at jrodrigo@vicad.com or tweet me via @eatseatseats. I'm always hungry.

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