Comfort Food: Fried Chicken

If you’ve never had homemade fried chicken–eaten within minutes of emerging from the oil, glistening and unctous–then I’ve got to tell you, you have no idea what fried chicken is, my friend.

Fried chicken is not chewy. Fried chicken should never be dry. Fried chicken skin should be crispy (unless, of course, it’s covered in gravy) and salty. There should be flavor to the chicken skin (unless, of course, you are a Scot), preferably some cayenne pepper for a tiny bit of kick. And most importantly, fried chicken should taste as delicious, moist, crunchy, and perfect as it looks. Or better.

Fried Chicken has to be the ultimate American comfort food–that’s why it’s so sad that more people don’t cook it at home. Yes, KFC is cheap and right down the street. Yes, it’s not the funnest thing to have a big pot of stinky, used oil in your kitchen the morning after you wake up from a fried chicken hang-over. Yes, once you make homemade fried chicken once you will never, ever be able to go back to the old, ready-made stuff. Even if you’re hungry and desperate and it’s 10PM on a weeknight and you just don’t have time to make dinner and you have to pass KFC on the way home anyway. One bite of the fast-food stuff will just make you remember how good your homemade chicken was, possibly bringing a tear to your eye. Possibly bringing a tantrum. Possibly bringing a restraining order when you try and punch out the guy behind the counter. So, yes, you may regret that you made homemade fried chicken.

But it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

Fried Chicken

adapted from The Summer Shack Cookbook (a GREAT cookbook!)

for New England Style Fry Mix

  • 2 cups corn flour (masa harina)
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine everything in a large bowl or dish. Mix well. (You can also store this in an airtight container for several weeks or more.)

for Seasoned Salt

  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon pepper
  • 1 T powdered garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 T AP flour

Mix everything together. This recipe makes way more than you need, so store the rest in an airtight container until you have the inclination to fry something again!

for Fried Chicken

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • New England Style Fry Mix
  • One 2 1/2 to 3 pound chicken cut into 10 pieces (or about 10 already drumsticks and thighs)
  • Seasoned Salt
  • about 4 cups peanut, corn, canola, or other vegetable oil for frying

Rub seasoned salt generously into the chicken. Set a large wire rack above a tin foil on the counter. Place the New England Style Fry Mix next to your wire rack set up. Pour buttermilk into a large bowl and place next to that. Working down the line, dip chicken pieces in buttermilk, then dredge in Fry Mix, then place on wire rack ready to be fried.

Heat oil in a large dutch oven, about 1 inch deep. Fry chicken pieces in batches, turning once to make sure they brown evenly. They should take about 10-15 minutes. Internal temp should read about 145º when you take chicken out of the oil. Let rest 5 minutes so that the pieces will cook themselves some more, eventually reaching about 160º. Enjoy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.