The ‘Ultimate’ Fried Chicken Recipe

Brian says:
Cast-iron skillets, stainless steel pans, Fry Daddies. There are so many ways that people implement to fry up a good batch of chicken. Some tend to work better than others, but they all have the same, delicious end product that’s, for absolute lack of a better term, finger-licking good. By why must one settle for just “good” when you could be great? You could be that absolute greatest when it comes to throwing down, Southern-style in the kitchen.

Now, there’s no division in which side of the Mason-Dixon line serves up the best fried chicken, but I assure you if any Yankee claims their recipe superior probably has a little southern blood in them.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups of vegetable or canola oil, for frying
  • 1/3 cup of reduced fat milk
  • 1/2 cup water (trust me on this one)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 pounds of chicken pieces, thawed, dried and separated
  • Fresh pepper and kosher salt

1. Pour oil into a deep and wide, stainless-steel skillet. The oil should be about an inch or so deep. Heat oil over medium-high heat to about 375 degrees. Note: If you find yourself strapped for time or just without a cooking thermometer, flick a few drops of water into the pan before heating and once the water starts popping vigorously, the oil should be ready to go.

2. While the oil is heating, be careful that it doesn’t smoke over, take a medium-sized bowl and mix together the eggs, milk and water together. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then dip them in the egg/milk wash. Transfer the meat over to the flour and dust liberally. To minimize mess, use a paper or plastic bag to toss and flour your chicken. Just make sure it’s clean before using.

3. Here’s the important part: Take the floured chicken and repeat the process, minus the salt and pepper, making sure that you have two layers of egg, milk and flour.

4. Slowly add chicken to the oil making sure you don’t crowd the pieces. Be careful, because the splash back can be most unkind. Make sure you turn the pieces regularly. It shouldn’t take more than 20-25 minutes to cook to a golden brown. Then place the chicken unto either a drying rack or paper towels will do.

This is the way my mother makes it (don’t tell her I told you), and I’m pretty sure this is the way my grandmother made it. By default, I consider it the best there is. I implore you submit your nuances on a time-tested recipe. What makes your version the “ultimate”?

Brian Wilder is a writer for Home Ec 101. You can also find him at Things My Grandfather Taught Me.
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10 Comments

  1. Maria Schwab on April 12, 2011 at 6:07 am

    I like this recipe except for one crucial ingredient: the canola oil…does anyone who reads this not care about heating up this highly unstable oil? I vote for lard rendered by YOU! So easy to do.
    Also I nix the shortening suggestion.. Some of us are behind the times. There are lots of wholesome, healthy oils waiting to be explored.
    Better your health by avoiding these icky oils.

  2. Melanie Nelson on April 7, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Heather, here's a question: What about using bacon grease to fry the chicken? I noticed that an earlier commenter says she uses lard/shortening. I think everything tastes better when I use my bacon grease. Aside from its artery-clogging properties, is it OK to fry the chicken with bacon grease is you have enough? Especially considering I don't make it often? What are your thoughts?
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    • HeatherSolos on April 7, 2011 at 8:48 am

      In frying, it's all about smoke points. (I will do this as a full post, too). Well when we aren't talking about health.
      So, heath issues aside lard has a smoke point of 370F, typically your frying oil should be 325F, which if I'm not mistaken bacon fat and lard are pretty much interchangeable, you should be fine. If however it smokes, throw it out.

    • Brian Jacobi Wilder on April 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      Yummm. Sounds like something to pursue in the near future.

  3. Melanie Nelson on April 7, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Heather, I do the buttermilk too! But I haven't made fried chicken in a while. I think may need to run to the store…
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  4. John on April 7, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I always put a little thyme and a little sage in my dredge … and ALWAYS use a rack! paper towels = soggy breading.

    • Brian Jacobi Wilder on April 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      Yeah. I suggested paper towels if you find yourself in a pinch.

  5. @madbadger2742 on April 7, 2011 at 7:10 am

    I also soak the chicken in buttermilk, but I fry in lard or shortening. I seem to get a crispier crust with the solid fats. I also dust the chicken with paprika between soaking and the first flouring. Yum.

  6. @ThatTeowonna on April 7, 2011 at 7:07 am

    ok… I'm giving this a try this weekend. I'll try yours next time. So excited!

  7. HeatherSolos on April 7, 2011 at 6:54 am

    I marinate the chicken in buttermilk and use peanut oil. Other than that? Pretty much the same: http://www.home-ec101.com/fried-chicken-fearless-

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