How to Pan Fry Chicken
Everyone claims to have the best fried chicken from local mom and pop restaurants to fast food chains such as KFC, Popeye’s, or Bojangles, but nothing compares to home cooked fried chicken. Personal taste reins when it comes to having a favorite, so making it homemade allows for slight variations to meet the taste needs of even the most finicky fried chicken eaters. The following is a basic recipe on how to pan fry chicken, but you can add different spices to change the flavor or to add some zest to your meal. This is great for a summer time lunch or an evening meal with all the trimmings.
What You Will Need
- One Whole Frying Chicken broken into quarters (one chicken for every 3 to 4 people)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt (omit salt for low sodium diets)
- 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
- Peanut, Vegetable, or Canola oil for frying
- Deep Cooking Pot (Cast Iron works great)
Frying Fresh Chicken
Step 1: Wash the chicken in cool, clean water and remove any unwanted parts or fat.
Step 2: Cut or break the chicken into quarters.
NOTE: Typically small chickens can be broken into two breast and two leg/thigh combinations. I also like to remove the wing and fry separately. Larger chickens will require the leg and thigh to be separated for better results.
Step 3: Mix two cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of salt (optional) and 3 teaspoons of black pepper (more or less to taste).
NOTE: If you plan on adding any other spices such as garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, etc. do so during step 3.
Step 4: Mix the dry ingredients together well using a mixing spoon.
Step 5: Add oil to your cast iron cooking pot (at least 1 inch to half way or approximately 4-6 cups of oil depending on the circumference and depth of your pot).
Step 6: Bring the heat of your oil up slowly and watch it so it does not over heat (about 350 degrees). Start on high heat then reduce heat to avoid overheating.
NOTE: Oil will begin to burn around 400 degrees and catch on fire if it becomes too hot (around 500 degrees). Never leave a pot of oil heating unattended. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of your oil.
Step 7: With your chicken slightly dry, dip the pieces in the mixture and coat the outside of the chicken with the flour mixture covering all areas.
Step 8: Gently lay your coated chicken in the hot oil.
NOTE: Plan to cook in batches to reduce the chance your oil will cool off too quickly. Don’t over crowed the pan. Watch your oil and adjust the heat up or down as necessary to keep a constant temperature while cooking.
Step 9: When you see the edges of the chicken down in the oil turning light and golden brown, use tongs to gently flip the chicken and continue cooking.
NOTE: Cooking times will vary depending on how large/thick the chicken pieces are and the consistency of the heat. Cooking may take 25-45 minutes per batch. The USDA recommends cooking chicken to a minimum of 165 degrees F checked by a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken.
Step 10: Once the chicken has reached a dark golden brown carefully remove it from the pan and place each piece on a drip rack to allow the excess oil to drip off.
NOTE: A drip rack can simply be a cooling rack over top of a thick layer of paper towels. To conserve paper towels, us a brown paper sack covered with two layers of paper towels to absorb the oil.
Step 11: Place the chicken on a serving plate and prepare for dinner.
Tip #1: Heat oil well before adding chicken.
Tip #2: Keep oil temperature consistent–too hot and the crust will burn, too cool and the chicken will absorb too much oil and be soggy.
Tip #3: Don’t over spice. Too much spice can take away from the flavor of the chicken. You can always use bar-b-q sauce or honey mustard with the chicken if it is not flavored well after cooking.
Tip #4: For best results use clean or unused oil and a cast iron pan.
Fried chicken is great served with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, green beans, homemade macaroni and cheese, and dinner rolls. This recipe allowed the crust on the chicken to be crispy and the chicken was moist and tender. The seasoning was not overpowering and the flavor of the chicken was delicious.
What is your favorite way to fry chicken? Do you have a special seasoning blend you like to use? Feel free to share your tips with our readers.
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