Finger-lickin’ Good

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In my younger years, Kentucky Fried Chicken was not frequently found at our dinner table (nor the equivalent bucket of chicken from the grocery store or anywhere, really). And homemade fried chicken? Let me remind you that my dear mother had an ultra-sensitive sense of smell, so anything that would leave a lingering odor in the kitchen was not going to be found in her repertoire of recipes. Oh, there were times we had it, and it was a finger-lickin’ luxury. When KFC was one of the sponsors of the Good Housekeeping Mother’s Day card contest that I won in sixth grade — well, those KFC meal vouchers were priceless to a girl who loves fried chicken. (The $3000 and trip to NYC was pretty cool, too.)

But I’ve never made fried chicken for real. I guess there’s something about the sheer amount of oil that needs to be heated along with the regulating of temperature and everything else that just seemed so daunting. And I didn’t want to reek havoc on my pot. But I now have a clip-on digital probe thermometer. I have a beautiful dutch oven. I had eight pieces of chicken thawed yesterday with no real plan for it (the originally-planned fajitas weren’t going to make it), and I had the idea to ask my husband what kind of chicken he wanted for supper.

“Fried chicken. And cole slaw. And biscuits.”

“I suppose you want mashed potatoes with that, too?”

I’m a glutton for a challenge. Or punishment. So with my trusted friends, Betty Crocker and Christopher Kimball & Co., I set out to become the Colonel of my kitchen. In 45 minutes.

I used bits and pieces of a recipe for orange-flavored chicken from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook (I figured that there had to be at least one recipe from the 2000 that would fit the bill) to coat and fry the chicken. Betty helped with the coleslaw and biscuits. I can do mashed potatoes on my own. It wasn’t too daunting, though I will admit that I got completely frustrated by the time it was taking to cook the chicken. The recipe said each batch would take 5 minutes or so, but after 5 minutes, the bone-in chicken thighs was still very, very pink in the center. Crispy on the outside, raw in the middle is not what I was going for! It was more like 15 minutes per batch (the boneless skinless chicken breast I used cooked faster). So now I know. But all in all, the end result turned out mighty tasty, and minus the biscuits, makes this meal worthy of a Wheatless Wednesday post. 

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Gluten-free Fried Chicken

  • 8 pieces chicken, your choice (thighs, drumsticks, boneless skinless breast)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 cups peanut or vegetable oil
  1. If desired (and especially if using boneless skinless chicken breasts), brine chicken in a solution of 3 cups water, 1/4 cup salt, and 2 tsp. garlic powder for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Adjust burner heat to regulate temperature at 350 degrees throughout cooking process.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towel. Season all sides with pepper.
  4. In shallow dish, beat eggs until slightly foamy.
  5. In another shallow dish, combine cornstarch, pepper, salt, garlic, and baking soda.
  6. Dip one piece of chicken into egg and coat all sides.
  7. Carefully dredge chicken piece through cornstarch mixture to coat all sides. Place chicken on wire rack set over lined baking sheet (helps clean-up). Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
  8. Using tongs, carefully place four pieces of chicken in hot oil. Fry until deep golden brown, carefully turning once during cooking time, about 10-15 minutes total. (If possible, it’s best to check the internal temperature of the chicken before removing from oil. White meat should be 160; dark should be 180.) Place chicken on paper towel-lined plate and repeat process with remaining chicken.
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