Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken 411

Ahh fried chicken. I have not met anyone who does not like this amazing dish. It’s somewhat easy to make but it can also be deceiving.
Many people have attempted to cook this dish only to find out that it is not as easy as they think it is. There are many aspects to consider when frying a chicken such as the cooking method. Do you want it deep-fried, oven-fried, or pressure-fried?

Fried Chicken

Another thing to consider is the cooking equipment. Depending how deep your pocket is will determine which equipment you can afford.

Deep Fryer Pot

Let’s start with the basics; you will need a pot big and deep enough to fry in, a cooking thermometer, and a meat thermometer.

Deep Stem Thermometer

A deep-stem thermometer is a must when you’re deep-frying. This is the only means you have to monitor the oil temperature.

Electric Deep Fryer

Unless you have one of those household deep fryers or a commercial deep fryer where the temperature is controlled by a thermostat. Don’t attempt to deep-fry a chicken without a thermometer. The outcome could be a disaster.

Meat Thermometer

A meat thermometer is also necessary in order to check the doneness of the chicken. Using the right cooking oil is also important. Peanut oil is the ideal oil to use for deep-frying. It has a higher smoke point than the other typical cooking oils such as olive, canola, vegetable, and corn oils. The meat? What part of the chicken are you going to use? Well for first timers I would recommend to start with the wings. Why? Chicken wings are a smaller piece of the chicken and they are uniform in size therefore all of the pieces will cook in the same length of time. This is also the best way to try out recipes you have not tasted yet. Now once you have tested the recipe and you decide that you like it then I would attempt to use the whole chicken cut-up.

A chicken cut-up consists of 10 pieces, but two of them most people don’t use. You have 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings, then the back, and the neck which most people discard. There are two types of meat on a chicken; white meat, which consists of the breast and wings, and the dark meat, which consists of thighs and legs. Dark meat requires a longer cooking time than the white meat. The challenging part is how to cook the large pieces without burning them first. I saw a lot of recipes that called for a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit and then to cook the meat for 12 or more minutes. This is simply not true. If you follow this cooking time and temperature, the chicken will be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. However, if you pressure-fry your chicken, then you can cook it in a much shorter time avoiding the chicken from getting burnt.

The way I fry mine is that I cook it at a lower temperature, around 225 degrees Fahrenheit and then leave it for 12 minutes and check the chicken for doneness.When cooking your chicken in the pot even though the meat is totally submerged you still have to turn the pieces every two minutes. The bottom of the pot is so much hotter than the oil itself and if you don’t turn them one side of the chicken pieces will cook a lot faster than the other resulting in one side being burnt. There is also another method that you can use when cooking the large pieces of chicken. They call it “The Heat Transfer Method.” To try this, you would fry the chicken until it hits the golden brown stage, then take it out and cover it with aluminum foil and let it sit for 3 minutes. The heat of the outside will cook through to the inside of the meat. Then put it back in the oil to finish cooking. This technique does work, but I would still cook it at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

In reality your cooking time will vary depending on how much you lose temperature when you add the chicken into the oil. The rule of thumb is to cook the meat-by-meat type. Cook all the white meat first, then cook the dark meat separately or vise-versa. Excluding the wings you may mix both types of meat especially if you have a commercial deep fryer. Cook the white meat until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. By that time the dark meat should also be cooked. Even though the dark meat requires a longer cooking time the white meat will compensate it by its size. Breast meat is much larger than thighs and legs therefore it will even out their cooking time and temperature.Now let’s talk about the cooking method.

Deep Frying is the most common method of fried chicken, but it takes a little bit more precision when it comes to time and cooking temperature. Oven Fried Chicken is the most foolproof way of cooking fried chicken. It does take a little bit more effort but it’s a sure thing. Here is why! Prepare your chicken like you normally do when deep-frying. Bring the oil temp to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and brown the chicken lightly, about a minute or two. Next, take it out and place it on a baking tray and loosely cover it with aluminum foil. Make sure your oven is pre-heated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit then bake it for an hour. Bring oil back to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and deep-fry the chicken a second time for an additional 1 – 1½ minute. Your chicken will be crunchy and cooked properly. The third cooking method is somewhat dangerous and expensive.

Commercial Pressure Fryer

The ultimate cooking method is “Pressure Frying” or “Broasting.” As most people have probably heard the mighty Kentucky Fried Chicken uses this method even though other restaurants do as well this is the first one that pops into my head when someone mentions pressure frying. Do not attempt to use this method unless you have the proper equipment. The result can be very rewarding if you do, but totally opposite if you don’t. Don’t be fooled by a regular pressure cooker thinking that it can be used for pressure frying. This is an absolute NO NO.

Pressure Cooker

Many new pressure cooker users often buy their first pressure cooker for the sole purpose of making chicken just like the Colonel, but when they get home and finally read the owners manual they find out, much to their surprise, that they cannot use their new pressure cooker for frying hot oil under pressure.

KFC Logo

Regardless of any tales about how the now famous Colonel invented his KFC recipe by using his little old home pressure cooker, I’m going to tell you that you cannot safely do this. Even that smart Kentucky gentleman soon learned that he had to have something better than an ordinary pressure cooker and all KFC style chicken is cooked in large, commercial, restaurant-grade, and heavy-duty pressure fryers. There are a few extreme risk takers who swear they have used the colonel’s secret recipe for years, and never had a problem with their pressure cooker. And yes, you know someone, who knew some guy, that did this all the time. Never had a problem, right? This is rather like playing Russian Roulette. No worries until the gun actually fires, right? Read your owners manual. You absolutely, positively CANNOT use your pressure cooker (or your canner) as a pressure fryer.

Chicken Bucket

In the 1970′s several well-known companies were manufacturing various kinds of “Chicken Buckets,” with both stove top and electric models sold for home use. All of these products were discontinued because they are unsafe, and serious burns can result under normal use. Many people own, and still use these old pots, completely unaware of the dangers they pose. They are often sold at garage sales and online auctions. Parts have not been available for these for at least 10-20 years, so the seals are unreliable. If you, or someone you know has one of these dangerous “Chicken Buckets,” I strongly urge you NOT to use it. Toss it out, but make sure it cannot by used by anyone else. Even though pressure frying is the ultimate way of deep-frying a chicken it’s a little unrealistic for household use.

Commercial Pressure Fryer

Commercial pressure-fryers are very expensive. Even a used one that you find on an online auction site still ranges anywhere from 1,500 to 10,000 dollars or more, therefore owning one of these ultimate cooking rigs is almost out of the question for household use. The final conclusion is if you want a similar effect to pressure-frying use the oven-frying method. Another key factor of tender and juicy chicken is to marinate the chicken in buttermilk over night. Buttermilk tends to make the chicken moist and tender even if you overcook it a little bit. Bottom line is if you want KFC go and buy KFC. It is not worth risking a serious burn injury for a 12 dollar bucket of chicken, not to mention the large hospital bills. Cook safely and enjoy your fried chicken!

Try my Fried Chicken recipe!

-Robert Colinares

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3 Responses to “Fried Chicken 411”

  1. Jason says:

    Is that KFC chicken in a bucket, in that photo – because that is what my fried chicken looks like when I cook it, but I think mine is even better.

  2. Richard Tupper says:

    Very good information! I will say that I use my pressure cooker to simply precook the chicken – chicken and a bit of water. I bring it up to speed for about 4 minutes to start the cooking process and then remove the chicken to a thin, wet flour and water batter. I deep fry in an electric deep fryer for about 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees. It took some twiking – chicken size, deep fryer temperature and such – but the result was cooked, crispy fried chicken with minimal coating. Done inside and not burnt on the outside.

  3. Hi Richard,

    You sound like a person who likes to keep cooking fun and accident free. I will have to try your method one of these days, it sounds like the ideal way of cooking fried chicken. People do your approach in cooking lechhon kawali so why not try it on fried chicken. Keep doing what you do in the kitchen and please do share your experience so other cooks can apply it to their fried chicken needs. Again, thanks for sharing your method.

    Cheers,

    Robert Colinares

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