Let's Talk Fried Chicken

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Let's Talk Fried Chicken
I've been playing around with fried chicken a lot lately and I've discovered it's pretty much like pizza; even when it's bad it's still pretty good. But there's so many different ways to approach fried chicken, and a great recipe is absolutely sublime.

So...do you brine or buttermilk marinade? Do you batter or bread? What type of seasonings do you use? What are your favorite sides to serve with fried chicken?
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G'day Chef',

Over time,  I've become aware that fried chicken is relished in The USA, but Down Under, it's mainly a take-away item, and pretty much the same everywhere; that is, crumbed and deep-fried drum sticks, which  (damning it with faint praise) is good enough when your hungry I suppose.

Obviously we have The Colonels ubiquitous KFC;  however, I'd be extremely disappointed if this was a good example of fried chicken - which I'm sure it,s not: just looking at your questions on the post tells me that.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to the development of this thread, and more so, to trying the things I'm going to learn from this it. Looking forward to the sides as well.
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buttermilk marinade is nice, also just broth is nice too, just to get the pores open and keep the chicken moist. 

Beer batters always rule, but i've actually been checking out using corn flakes. I think i saw it on a show once or something. Rolled out into an almost meal, they're great, or you can leave em chunky. I also like to use cracker meal. I believe cracker meal is what chick-fil-a for those of us fortunate to have one close uses. They also don't fry though, they use a broaster.

Jacob, how close do you find the lemon juice or vinegar sitting in milk for a few minutes comes to buttermilk? I've always used this, because I never find myself having buttermilk on hand, and was always curious how it compares.
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  My mom was the best, but even she would admit that my dad was the cook.  Chicken skin was always this flabby goo that was best removed before eating, and we never had fried food.  The first time that I ate fried chicken was at about age 20.  As a matter of course, I removed the skin, then wondered why people  loved fried chicken so much!   Yeah, that was a few dress sizes ago...Alas, I have learned to eat the yummy bits.

  I brine my bird, then do a buttermilk soak for hours or overnight.  The enzymes in the buttermilk help to keep the bird tender and juicy.  I season with a little salt, black, and cayenne peppers, then toss the pieces in flour.

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Here's something I have yet to try, but about which a number of other people have raved: Cold-Oil Fried Chicken. Those who have tried it swear that it does not turn out greasy (even the cold leftovers) and that the results are consistently good. After looking at the recipe again, for the first time in a while, I guess that what is really happening is that the first stage of the cooking - while the oil is still heating up with the chicken in it - is essentially poaching the chicken in the oil and then the final stage of cooking - once the oil has reached 350F - is the actual frying that finishes it.

I would love try try this, but don't have an electric skillet, so I'd really have to keep an eye on the oil temperature.
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renili
It is funny how a lot of fried chicken shops have sprung up my area.  The craze was started by Bon Chon and now there are more chains like that, offering the same thing.  Now there is Chicken Charlie, and the latest one I saw was Manang's Chicken.

They practically offer the same idea though attacked differently.  My favorite would have to be Manang's though as they are simple with it and just gives you an option to have it flavored by any of their sauces.
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Hey Hey Hey,

Fried chicken is something that is very near and dear to my heart (And I'm sure my arteries love it too). I really do not care for the batter fried chicken. I feel that it is just too much: too greasy, too much batter.

I gotta insist the best chicken is southern fried. By southern fried I mean marinated in buttermilk and pan fried. I feel the result is chicken with much more character than deep fat fried. Its also  what I grew up with, so I'm probably just biased.

Cheers
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Sort of off topic, but concerning fried foods. Since I've begun experimenting I've found that those clip to the pot oil and candy thermometers are useless. So far I've gone through three different ones and they all seem to be extremely inconsistent. Most of the time they are too low, and when I drop the food the temperature spikes. The only thing I've found to be useful is standing over the oil with a probe thermometer in my hand dipped into the oil.

Irritating, very irritating.
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I can see that there are several variations to the elements of American-style fried chicken: but what 
about the chook itself? Do you use the different portions of the whole bird or is there a specific part that is generally accepted as the best for this dish? If there is no generally accepted tradition, it would be helpful ( for  a poor uninformed Aussie)  wink  to see a members discussion on the "what and why" of your preferences.

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p.s. No one has mentioned accompaniments or serving - presuming that it's not just a bog in on the chook by itself.

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The chook ("chicken" for Americans not familiar with Aussie terms) is usually divided into two breast halves. The use of the legs varies from person to person: some leave the thigh and drumstick together as a single piece but others cut them into separate pieces. Sometimes the wings are left on the breast portion, but they are often removed and set aside for hot wings, rather than being served with the other fried chicken.

Many people prefer the breasts but kids (even though they usually want nothing to do with dark meat) often like the drumsticks because of the "built-in handle."

I have a theory that one's taste for chicken matures in a manner similar to that of one's taste for wines. Younger people usually prefer very sweet wines and, as their tastes mature (if given the chance), they gradually like drier and drier wines and stop liking the super-sweet ones. With chicken, it would seem that less-mature tastes prefer the breast due to its milder flavour and that more-developed palates enjoy the dark meat - especially the thigh - when they realise that THAT is where the REAL flavour is, with very little in the breast. It amuses (an peeves) me to no end that food establishments (usually fast-food, but not always) tend to highlight white meat as though dark meat were inferior. They say things like "100% white meat" and "If it's not all white meat, it's grey area." It's almost as though they're saying, "Ewwwwww! I don't want any dark meat in MY food!" In some cases, though, this can actually be used to one's advantage, since some places actually charge more for white meat and those of us who like the dark meat can get away with paying less.
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Take heart Labs, don't be too peeved at white meat lovers.  As you say they are usually kids and/or have not developed a healthy palate, and they drink soda with meals ewwwww!  More dark meat and wine for the rest of us :)

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@ Brian,  hey babe, let's talk side dishes!  I'm really not familiar with fast food places, but I do know that for sides they offer, cole slaw, mashed or fried potatoes and let's not forget the mushy mac and cheese from a mix that's been sitting under hot lights for God knows how long.  But there's so much more, and it depends on the season and your imagination.

Free association on sides to pick and choose:

  Homemade mac&cheese with maybe a little bacon sprinkled into it, fried green tomatoes with a buttermilk batter, roasted corn, salad with a buttermilk dressing. Cole slaw, broccoli slaw, creamed chestnuts, fresh English peas, and let's not forget FAVA BEANS!!
 A sprinkle of fresh rosemary on the chicken and served with a creamy Parmesan polenta, roasted mushrooms, roasted broccoli, roasted eggplant (guess I'm stuck on a roasted vege kick here)  roasted spring or cipollini onions, braised /grilled artichokes.

 I want some!
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Thanks Labs,
So what you're are saying is that it's Rafferty's Rules depending on preference, or what cuts you happen to have lying around.

In Auz we (including the kids) don't consider any part of chicken to be dark meat. We're more inclined to discriminate between the source of the protein; for example, chicken white, turkey dark - full stop. So, generally,
those that don't like dark meat, would probably not eat turkey at all. Chicken preferences would be based on taste, texture, and moisture.  Obviously fast food (we call them takeaways) outlets reflect that and don't use 100% white as a promotion tool. Even the multinationals adapt to the culture of the country they're in, which, obviously, is just good business; but there's something that always tickles me: in Australia, it has always been essential that a
beef burger includes slices of beetroot (the dark-crimson type, lightly pickled to balance the the sweetness of the beet) and Auz could probably be the only place in the world where MDonald's puts beetroot on their burgers. 

"Two all-beef patties.................. and beetroot on a sesame seed bun" Just kidding: they weren't aware of the beetroot thing when that old chestnut was around.
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G'day Nina,

Along with the mashed or fried potato, do they also include that synthetic-tasting gravy which always tastes the same regardless of the establishment or the country.

Thanks for the hints on the side dishes. I'm ready to order now. 

As a starter I would like the creamed chestnuts served with scones griddle-cooked with lard.

For entree (first course) the fried green tomatoes with buttermilk batter sounds delightful. Do we need  a sweetish dipping sauce to go with that?

Now for main meal, may I have the fried chicken ( surprise me with this) served on a bed of  the parmesan polenta, with roasted mushrooms,roasted spring onions, and the braised artichoke hearts. I would like this served with a pile of whole grain dinner rolls and butter held at a temperature that is quite cool in the mouth, but still spreadable.

I realise this a lot of hard yakka, so I'll do the dessert, which is a big ask, mate.

Dessert: take fresh ricotta cheese, pour over warm honey, and sprinkle with thyme flours - an Italian recipe which proves the acumen of the kiss principle - ambrosial!

Well everyone, Nina's cooking. I've put in my order. What's everyone else having?
 


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I'm whhhhhat?  I was just the idea gal.  Jacob should do the cooking!  

The fresh ricotta dessert sounds incredible and except for the thyme flowers it would be easy to pull together.  The climate in Florida is too warm for thyme.  It grows, but doesn't thrive, and it will only grow during the winter.  Perhaps basil blossoms will do the trick.  
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@ Brian, to answer your question; the mashed potatoes are served with  plastic gravy.  In the USA we eat fries/chips with ketchup although I know a few people who like their fries with ranch salad dressing which has a buttermilk base.  Canadians eat their fries with malt vinegar which I like too because it cuts the grease.  On occasion you will finds a restaurant that serves vinegar.

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I think rosemary blossoms would be the next best to thyme; however, when flowers are scarce, I use the  leaves (fresh or dried) which is just as good, but obviously doesn't have the same presentation as that snow-white cheese nestling under the golden honey, and graced with delicate thyme leaves.

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@Nina: You're also forgetting the mayonnaise that we dip our fries into north of your border..... mmmmm
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Zalbar, I'll have to that........sounds sinful........ mmmmm

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I brine (dark meat only) with the usual suspect seasonings (lemon, rosemary, thyme, pepper, salt, garlic, sugar)

 

Dry

 

Season liberally using a mix of paprika, cayenne, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder (heavy on the paprika, lighter on the rest)

 

Then dredge in a lightly seasoned flour.

 

Let rest and dry (significant step)

 

Then pressure fry with a pressure fryer (not a pressure cooker!)

 

the result is fried chicken awesomeness! I can't even seem to make enough of it to last two days in the fridge. My kids have even fought over it.

 

Wisconsin Limey

Pressure frying is a Wisconsin thing, Broasting.

 

 

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@JoeB,

 

Where did you get your pressure fryer and what make and model do you use?

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After a great deal of fruitless searching for a new electric product, I finally followed the leads for a discontinued product called "The Wear-Ever Chicken Bucket" on ebay for about $35usd. It is cast aluminum with a low pressure weight valve. It took about a half dozen runs to get it right but works great. It is 6 quarts and can cook a lot of chicken (5-12 pcs depending on the size of the bird) One of the problems I had was I could not believe it could cook so much chicken with so little oil and I kept burning it. When I loaded it up more, it worked perfectly.

 

This was the only "home product" I could find. I seems like all of the new/electric products are big restaurant caliber units.

 

I am convinced this is the secret of large restaurant chains to produce consistent good fried chicken (in addition to good seasoning and meat!)

 

they call it "broasting" in Pittsburgh too :)

 

if anyone goes the ebay route, make sure it includes a good gasket. A manual is good too but you can probably find it somewhere to print out if not.

 

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This might be an odd question.  Has anyone tried the sous vide method on chicken, then deep- or pan-fry afterwards?  The thought of it popped in my head while listening to a podcast, on the 4 pillars of bread of all places.  I'm wondering how the dish might turn out or if it's even feasible.

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Its really hard to beat properly pan fried chicken. Its got to have that one little dark spot thats extra crispy to be perfect. 

 

I've always pan fried a buttermilk marinated in chicken coated in a mix of flour, cornstarch, salt, tony chacheres, paprika, and cayenne. Serve it up with collard greens, mac n cheese, and creamed corn--heck of a meal. Have to say though, I like Nina's idea of fried green tomatoes. They are one of my favorite foods on earth.

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@RenoC,

 

I use a similar combination technique for a dish I call "The Perfect Half Roasted Chicken." The whole chicken is split in half, vacuum packed with aromatics, and cooked at 60C/140F for 4 hours in a circulating bath. After 4 hours, I cut the chicken out of the bag, allow it rest for about 20 minutes, and then pan fry, skin side down, in chicken fat to crisp the skin. The end results are awesome.

 

The issue with turning this into a fried chicken technique is it's difficult to get any sort of coating to stick to the chicken (or any protein for that matter) after it is cooked. The one exception that I've found though is you can usually get a coating to stick while the protein is still wet.

 

One thing that I've been planning to experiment with is to vacuum pack the chicken in a mild buttermilk brine and then sous vide at 60C for 4 hours. Once cooked, cut the chicken out of the package and burry in seasoned floured, allowing it to cool for about 20-30 minutes. From here, fry at about 350-375 until crispy.

 

Again, I haven't tried this yet, but it is on my test list and theoretically it should work.

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I brine, dry, season, flour, then pressure fry, in that order so the seasoning is somewhat protected by the flour (not sure if that works but that's what Alton Brown said)

 

the more "gloopy" batters don't work in pressure fryers.

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What kind of pressure fryer do you use?

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haha I didn't realize I had already posted in this thread, check post #24

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