Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Further Proof That I'm Completely Insane

One skill that I've been slow to develop in the past few years is deep frying. It was not something I would dare do when I was first learning to cook. Deep frying never happened in my home. My mother was both a health nut and neat freak. She generally shunned deep-fried food (although she was never above an occasional indulgence when someone else prepared it). She also hated the idea that anything you deep fry might (*gasp*) spatter and make a mess. I used to cook a lot for my grandparents at their house and they weren't big on fried foods either. They were a little bit grease-phobic. (They would freak if you left the skin on their chicken when you cooked it. ) They also feared grease fires (because Grandma worried about EVERYTHING). Deep frying was something I came to fear. I feared greasy, improperly cooked food, big messes, and potential kitchen fires.

Now that I have been mistress of my own kitchen for a few years, I have ventured forth into deep frying territory. I have successfully made hot wings, doughnuts, and chicken fingers. Just a few weeks ago I deep fried some chicken kievs and they came out perfectly. The one thing where perfection (or at least full competency) eludes me is fried chicken (whole pieces rather than just boneless breasts or wings). I love fried chicken dearly, but the past two times I have tried to make it, I got chicken that was either overcooked or undercooked.

Yet I'm crazy enough to keep trying. I had leftover buttermilk in my fridge. I bought it to make a cake, used some of it to make biscuits last week (which I used as the bun for some mini turkey burgers), and still had half a container left. It was due to expire in two days and I wanted to use it up once and for all. The best way to use it seemed to be as a marinade for fried chicken. I'm crazy enough to keep trying, despite lack of success in the past.

The other reason I'm crazy? Who the (expletive deleted) fries chicken in 95+ degree heat?

How did it all turn out?

Into the marinade the chicken went in the morning.

Do I detect a pinkish color in that marinade? Might that be from the presence of a few shakes of sriracha? Mmmmm...could be.

I came home from work and started up the coating process. I mixed all-purpose flour with salt, pepper, and enough smoked paprika for the flour to have a nicely speckled appearance (sorry, no measurements of any kind here). I removed the breast from the bone for faster cooking (and because my chicken-breast-loving husband doesn't like bones).

Tyler Florence once suggested on one of his old shows that you double-dip the chicken. Put it back in the buttermilk after you floured it and re-flour it. (Is re-flour a word?) I liked that idea quite a bit.

Oil at 350 degrees. Time to get all of that yummy seasoned chicken in there. I'd say it was about 15 minutes on the first side, then cook to temperature on the second. I did not make the mistake I made previous times and messed with the heat level. I left the stove alone and let the chicken do its thing.

Here are the results (with some creamed spinach on the side).

My chicken was browned a little more than I wanted and the coating on two of the thighs were slightly burnt on the bottom, but otherwise the chicken was delicious. The flavor of the sriracha came through and the meat was moist and tender. I was a little worried that Kevin would remember the undercooked chicken from the last time and not be happy that I was making fried chicken for dinner, but he was very pleased when he came home and saw the chicken frying. When he finally ate it, he loved it so much that it completely erased his memory. I was a little bugged when I saw him eating the chicken meat and leaving the crispy skin, then I realized he was saving it for last. The thighs I ate were a tad greasy, but not unbearably so. I will continue my quest to make really topnotch fried chicken and quell my fears of deep frying.

Oh, and Mom, there were very few grease spatters on the stove.

(You know what I'm making for dinner tomorrow night? This. It doesn't take any more cooking than boiling water and it doesn't take more skills than pushing the food processor button. I can handle that. Thanks Val!)


Adam said...

I guess you're living on the wild side now with all the frying :)

I used to think just like your mom when it came to frying... that it was all unhealthy. It really just comes down to if you eat the skin on a chicken. We fry whole turkeys at my house... and the oil sears the outside and keeps the rest moist and grease free. It's really neat.

Great job on the chicken they have a nice color to them.

Bellini Valli said...

I have a phobia of deep frying myself so never venture there. It would be easy if I had a deep fat fryer. Mom & dad do french fries all the time...I will have to look into it as I love all things fried!!! I am glad that you are4 going to try the pesto. Who knew broccoli could taste so good:D

ntsc the art of the pig said...

Get a candy/oil thermometer, which you may have and didn't show. Deep fry at 350 F.

A frying pan can handle about a 1/2 chicken at a time, if you are doing a whole chicken, keep the first half warm in the oven.

Pull a thigh out and check internal temp with an instant read thermeometer while keeping track of the time it has cooked. You want 165 F.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I'm a deep fryaphobic too. I was severely burned when I was two and have had a morbid fear of fire ever since. Imagine, a cook afraid of fire! Somehow, I muddle through....

I have tried to make fried chicken like that many times and it is always a disaster! Kudos to you for your success! It may have been a little singed, but it looks great (and a helluva lot better than mine).

Emiline said...

I was just thinking tonight that fried chicken sounded good. With mashed potatoes and gravy!

It looks perfect...I'm going to have to make some.

mSjEnA said...

Hi - I'm Jena and I happened upon your blog by way of another foodie.. Just stopped by to say Hi. I cook on my blog sometimes too and am inspired by others as well.. Stop by and say Hi..

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Wow. I'm overwhelmed by the positive responses to this post. It's definitely keeping my deep-frying impulses in high gear.

Adam - I've always wanted to do a fried turkey for t-day. Alas, I have no space to do so.

Val - I would love a fryer too. I remember growing up my grandmother had one. I never saw her make anything in it but zeppole. Now that she's in a nursing home and her house has been sold, I wonder what happened to it. I'll be my brother took it!

NTSC Art - Thanks for stopping by. I actually did take your advice. I used a candy thermometer, but it sits in the pan at an awkward angle, which wouldn't make a good picture, so I took it out for the photo. I used a meat thermometer on the thigh, but it didn't come to temperture until the bottom had burnt a little (or at least that was true for two of hte pieces). The pieces you see in the pan are as many as I put in at one time. I was a good girl and didn't crowd.

Sticky - Keep trying. I'm sure you'll get it right. Just keep a fire extinguisher handy and keep your limbs covered.

Em - I was thinking after I made it that mashed potatoes would have been the perfect accompaniment. I don't know why I didn't think of something so obvious. Hope you make some chicken of your own soon.

Jena - Hi. Thanks for stopping by!

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

YyyAAAaayyyyy! I am so glad and proud of you for attempting fried chicken (again). It looks great! I love Sriracha!! You did a great job. I don't deep fry much, but not having a cast iron skillet or dutch oven near by that I can potentially fill with grease and fry makes me a little sad.

Emiline said...

Hey, you inspired me by your chicken.
No, I didn't make any. But I bought some! And it was good. I felt kind of sick after I ate it because it was so greasy. It was this massive breast.
Oh well!