After some incredibly mediocre food from Wildside BBQ & Grill, I found myself still craving some bbq. I grabbed a chicken at the grocery the next day with intentions of throwing it on the grill this week. After a couple days of discussion about the new KFC Double Down, I found myself now craving fried chicken (I have no intentions of trying the KFC monstrosity). Emily was going to be working late, so I checked the fridge and found that I still had some buttermilk from the Southern Biscuits recipe that had not gone bad yet. Despite it being much further along in the book/project, I decided that I’d be making Alton Brown’s Pan Fried Chicken tonight.
The idea to do fried chicken came to me about halfway through the day, so I only got to soak the chicken for about 5 hours instead of the 12-24 instructed to. For some reason, I also forgot to take photos while I broke down the chicken. I started by butterflying it, and thanks to this video, it went much smoother than last time. I still had problems though – this time separating the wings and legs from their joints, but I managed.
Alton’s seasoning combination sounds pretty good – and from a quick test, tasted pretty good. It’s a combination of kosher salt, cayenne, paprika and garlic powder. This is pretty much my standard set of seasoning spices that I use on most things anyways, so I went ahead and filled an empty shaker with some of this seasoning mix.
After seasoning the chicken, you dredge the chicken in the flour. His idea is that by coating the spices with the flour, the spices themselves won’t burn off as easily. Interestingly, this recipe doesn’t call for a second coating of seasoning and flour. This is one of the few that I’ve seen that doesn’t.
The first step of the recipe is to start heating the pan with your shortening in it. I tend to take a little extra time prepping things though – especially when I’m making a new recipe – doubly so when I’m taking photos along the way. As such, I didn’t start the pan heating early like I really should have. Since I waited until after the chicken was coated, I had to sit around and wait longer for the pan and oil to come up to temperature. Finally though, the oil was up to about 325 and it was time to put the chicken in.
Every few minutes, I checked the temperature of the oil and lowered or raised the heat to keep it as steady as possible. I was amazed at how much I had to vary the stove temperature to keep the oil at 325. The instructions were to cook the chicken on each side for 12 minutes. He notes that the chicken will come out looking very dark – almost like it was burned, but that that’s just the paprika darkening – not actually burning.
Well, after 24 minutes of cooking, the chicken came out pretty damned dark – just like he said. I let it cool on a rack for 25 minutes. Since I had to cook the chicken in two batches, it made it really easy to let the chicken cool without eating it too early.
After 24 minutes of pan frying (I actually did the second batch for only 20 minutes, but have not tasted it yet), the chicken is not burnt – but it’s pretty damned close. A lot of people would probably call it burnt. The skin is very crispy, like a dry skin on a roasted chicken – but it doesn’t hit that “burnt” mark just yet. The meat itself is still nice and juicy. The overall flavor of the chicken with the seasonings is ok. Like I said, the seasoning blend is pretty similar to what I generally use, so that was no surprise – but with it being almost burnt, it gets lost a bit. I actually tend to like my fried chicken to have a bit of sweetness, and would probably add a bit of sugar to the mix.
I think pan frying this one was the real problem here. I kept the oil at about 325 the entire time. It never fell below 305, and never rose past 330. Yes, each side is only cooked for 12 minutes each. Yes, the paprika darkening supposedly attributed to a lot of the coloration, but I think that being pressed against the pan helped cook everything faster – to the point of burning the spices. I think this recipe might work a lot better baking it in the oven.
Pan Fried Chicken Rating: