How to get Pwned by Fried Chicken
One of humanity’s favorite ways of cooking food is to fry. And the world’s most munched on bird is the Chicken. So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that fried chicken holds a special place in many people’s hearts. I don’t know about you, but Hunnie and I drool over fried chicken. Just the thought of fried chicken makes me weak in the knees. I am determined to master this simple yet surprisingly complex food.
We’ve all seen the numerous food shows that highlight fried chicken. Unwrapped with Mark Summers did a segment on Popeye’s fried chicken. Their secret was to marinate the fried chicken in a special blend of spices and buttermilk for 24 hours. In Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay, he challenged a veteran chicken frying Chef to a Fried Chicken Throwndown. Through the course of that episode, it was revealed that Bobby Flay double dips his chicken in a flour-buttermilk-flour trifecta to get that special crunch when frying. The chicken is dusted with seasoned flour, then dunked in buttermilk, then tossed in flour, then fried. Some chefs don’t use buttermilk but nonetheless, the chicken needs to marinated in special seasonings and perfectly fried. In Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate, they featured the magical fried chicken of a restaurant in New Orleans. This chef learned her secrets from her grandmother, which founded the restaurant. She emphasizes oil temperature and timing, which is also something the chefs in Throwdown emphasized. Alton Brown, host of Good Eats also has a recipe for Fried Chicken. It seems simple, which is a bit different then how the other chefs do it, but who knows, maybe the elegance is in its simplicity?
So let’s recap the important details:
1) Secret blend of spices and/or buttermilk to marinate the chicken.
2) Secret blend of spices and/or buttermilk to coat chicken. Coating the chicken once or twice both seem to yield crispy and flavorful fried pieces of meat.
3) Carefully regulated oil temperature and very specific cook time.
4) Cross your fingers and hope that the Chicken Gods are with you.
Okay, so looking at this short list of important details, it’s obvious that the barriers to entry to fried chicken fame is not easily obtained. Looks like I better not expect to get my degree in Frynancial Chickenomics any time soon. (Whoa, that was an awesome joke! But not nearly as awesome as the chicken I’m about to fry, so keep reading.)
So I know that the seasonings play a very big role. After studying what the pros tend to use, here’s a list of spices that seem to go into the chicken marinade.
1) Cayenne pepper (for heat, depth of flavor, and that spicy kick)
2) Paprika (for sweetness and aroma and another dimension of spicy kick)
3) Garlic powder (or granulated garlic, for an aromatic flavor. everything that tastes good these days either has onion, garlic or butter in it.)
4) Onion powder (just like garlic powder, but different…a bit more…onion-y)
5) Black pepper (for a nice kick that’s different than cayenne or paprika)
6) Salt (yes, good ol’ salt. but not too much, or else it’ll ruin it. more on that later.)
Most of the chefs use some combination of these spices. I guess the secret is in the proportion of these spices. But these spices are so commonly used, I refuse to believe that Fried Chicken can be mastered with just these. I’ve always wondered what other spices would go well in a super secret fried chicken marinade?
A) Coriander: This spice has a nice citrus flavor. Often used with chicken anyways, wouldn’t it pair nicely?
B) Allspice: Also used with chicken and other meats, so this spice should go well to add more depth. But not too much, or else it’ll taste bitter.
C) Cinnamon: Ground, not stick. Don’t be silly. A little bit of cinnamon would add that sweet aromatic spiciness that we’ve all come to love. Some cinnamon here wouldn’t necessarily make your fried chicken taste like a ginger bread house, it would make it a bit sweeter and more juicy.
D) Nutmeg: What the hell is nutmeg doing in here? I dunno, why is a raven like a writing desk? Because it just is. Nutmeg has a subtle earthy, dare it say it, nutty flavor that goes well with chicken and some of the other flavors I just mentioned.
E) Thyme: Yes, chicken does go well with thyme, but now you’re just throwing everything in there huh? Who says some herbs can’t do in with our super secret marinade? Maybe this will add some freshness to our chicken-ness?
F) Oregano: More herbs that go with chicken. Maybe by the end of this ridiculous list, my fried chicken will taste like a chicken noodle soup. If that’s so, then I’m going to make myself fried chicken whenever I get the sniffles.
If in some magical way, these flavors are used in recipes by pro chicken fryers and they just don’t tell us, then I’ve hit the Fried Chicken Jackpot. It’s just figuring out the proportions of these ingredients that make this recipe harder than blowing up the Death Star by shooting a photon torpedo down some maintenance shaft. (Oh wait….)
With all that thinking and planning and practicing in my X-Wing, here’s my recipe for some fried chicken. Please note that all the proportions of this recipe are garbage. I never measure when I cook. To me, it’s all about proportions. Obviously you can tweak this as you like to get your chicken to taste completely different than any other fried chicken. (To be really honest with you, whenever you watch any cooking show on TV, how does anyone know that what they’re making tastes like complete crap? I mean, seriously, they have to tell you that it has to taste good or else why would they have a show to tell people how to cook?) Enough chit-chat!
2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of paprika pepper (smoked or whatever, it’s your preference)
1/3 tablespoon of ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon of nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon of coriander
1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon
1/3 tablespoon of allspice
1/2 tablespoon of oregano
1/2 tablespoon of thyme
1/3 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
2 tablespoons of onion powder
Some Canola Oil for frying (you can also use Shortening or Peanut oil, or vegitable oil, use your imagination)
A bunch of chicken pieces
Pat your chicken dry. You don’t want wet chicken because the water will just dilute your yummy spices. And nobody wants to be a flavorless downer at a fried chicken party.
Combine your spices (except for the salt! do not put salt in your marinade! it makes your chicken salty! save the salt for when you’re coating with flour.) with your buttermilk and pour over chicken. Put in fridge and marinate for a bunch of hours (2-24 hours).
Once your chicken has been flavoritized and marinificated (yes, those are words, and no, gullible is not in the dictionary) pat them dry and prepare for the double dipping process. Save your flavored buttermilk for your chicken’s second dunking.
Preheat your oil (or other endorsed frying agent) to 350 degrees. (If you’re asking how much that is in Centigrade, you can go look it up, cuz I don’t know and I don’t care. If you’re asking how much that is in Kelvin, you’re probably Stephen Hawking and seriously, you shouldn’t be eating fried chicken, it’s not healthy for you anyways. We need you to live long enough to tell us when the universe will end.) While your oil is heating up, it’s time to get your flouring-dunking-flouring assembly line prepared.
Flouring the first time: Season some flour with cayenne, salt, onion powder and ground black pepper. How much you want to season the flour is up to you. (don’t you just love it when a recipe tells you to do whatever you want? i’m sure there are a few housewives that are reading this and going “WTF?!”) Evenly coat your chicken in this seasoned flour.
Dunk your floured chicken into the seasoned buttermilk that you saved from before. If you didn’t save your buttermilk, it’s okay, just get some buttermilk and put some spices into it. And it really doesn’t matter what you put to season the buttermilk because your chicken will taste awesome anyways.
After you’ve dunked your chicken into the buttermilk, coat your chicken with flour again, this time with just regular unseasoned flour. But if you want to, you can use seasoned flour again. Go nuts people.
Gently place your floured chicken into the hot oil. Be careful not to burn yourself because skin grafts hurt.
Fry for about 20 minutes. But you know what, it really depends on the size of your chicken and the temperature of your chicken when it’s being coated and going into the hot oil. If you have cold chicken, it won’t fry very well. So I think it’s a good idea to let your chicken rest to almost room temperature before you begin flouring, dunking and frying. Obviously for larger pieces of chicken it requires longer frying times, and if you’re doing this recipe with chicken strips or tenders or popcorn chicken, your cooking time would be much less. So it’s really a judgment call. (Remember the factors that made this recipe tricky? Blend of spices and cook time. That’s what the pros have and we don’t. And as low class citizens in Fried Chicken Land, we really have to do a lot of learning and experimenting before we get that perfect chicken.)
Once your chicken comes out of the oil, don’t place it on a bed of paper towels. Drain your chicken on a rack over a baking sheet, to prevent sogginess.
So how did my first attempt turn out? Awesome! The doneness of my chicken was perfect because I payed attention to the Golden Browness ratio of my fried chicken. But there is always room for improvement. That’s why I strongly encourage you to try new things and repeatedly tweak your super secret blend of seasonings.
Thanks so much for reading this ridiculous experimental recipe. You are now on a quest for the best Fried Chicken in the Universe.
I wish you all the best of luck and please let me know in the comments what you think of my recipe, my jokes, and how your chicken turned out way better than mine.