Monday, December 15, 2014

What does the fox cook? Fried chicken tonight! Updated...

It's been years since I fried some chicken; I'm eager to try some new things this time.

So first I start with a clean sink. I wipe it down with soapy water, and then I sprinkle generous amounts of salt (I am still using that pickling salt) into the sink and rub the sides and bottom with that. Why do I do that? Well, salt tends to kill germs, doesn't it? Plus it has a slightly abrasive quality, so if there's any residue still on the sides, it should help with that.

Then I open the two packages of "split chickens" into the sink. They are still a little frozen, but that should not be a problem. I sprinkle a good amount of salt over them, both sides -- this is for antiseptic purposes. (My mother used to do this.) Then I find a sharp knife, and begin cutting the chickens into fry-able pieces.


I imagine a lot of people find cutting up a chicken daunting, but it really isn't. I've seen tutorials online for how to do it with real finesse, but even without those skills, it's not that hard, especially when you have, as I did, two chickens already cut in half (and no giblets, boo!). What I do is find the joint between, and bend the pieces to "break" the bonds at the joint, and then work the knife in between the joints. If it's a sharp knife, it'll cut through everything nicely. A good knife should even cut the chicken bones fairly well, but there's no need for that, unless you have a whole chicken and you need to cut through the breast bone. Also, I cut away the backbone parts, with the tail, which I'll save for stock. My freezer has several bags of assorted items that will go into the next stock -- leftover vegetables, onion skins, chicken parts, etc.

With the breasts, I couldn't decide whether to cut them in half, or leave them more or less "whole." The smaller pieces cook faster, but it's so nice having a whole breast. So I decided to cut up two of them, and leave the other two alone.

When all the pieces were cut up the way I like them, I poured a quart of buttermilk over it all:


Followed by a generous amount of Franks Hot Sauce. All this I stirred up; using a bit of water to get the last of the buttermilky goodness out of the carton, and then I pushed the chicken pieces down into the milk mixture, so it can all marinate.


A lid on that, and into the fridge to marinate for several hours.

Oh, and in all that, I rescued a nice bit of chicken fat from one of the pieces; I'll throw that in with the lard (yes, lard! ask me why) when I heat that up to fry the chicken later.

Update, 12/16/14...

After going to town to do some business and see a movie, and after offering Mass, I got back to the chicken yesterday around 6 pm.

The first step was to get the lard heating up. I had a good supply -- too much, really -- of bacon fat in the fridge, so I threw that in as well.

Then I mixed the dry ingredients: flour, paprika, spicy Montreal steak seasoning. Next time, I'll get some garlic powder; it's not something I keep on hand. I put all this in a ziplock bag, and then added the pieces straight from the buttermilk, and then after coating them, laid them out on a pan to dry a bit (this is just half the pieces; I prepared two whole chickens):


 After they sat awhile, I decided it was time to start cooking. I cooked the chicken in batches, trying to put larger pieces in first, then smaller ones, so they would all finish about the same time. I didn't actually expect to cook them completely in the fat, but rather to give them a good, crispy coating, and then finish them in the oven.

Here is one batch, cooking away:


And here's the whole batch, ready for the oven:


So what's the verdict?

The chicken was very good; the crust was pretty good; but the batter needed much more seasoning. Next time, I will try either applying some Franks right before dipping in the dry ingredients, or adding much more seasoning to the dry mix, or both.

Except for the wings, the pieces were underdone; so I put the chicken back in for a bit.

There were three very large pieces -- all breast pieces -- that I kept in the longest. I found them this morning, after Mass, thoroughly cremated.

The rest is safely in the fridge, ready to be consumed at future meals.

10 comments:

ndspinelli said...

Sounds great! I just returned from Mexico, Lard Central! We saw a couple processionals leading up to Our Lady of Guadalupe 12/12 holiday. They have processionals every day for ~2 weeks leading up to the holiday. Cab drivers hate them because they tie up traffic. The church is beautiful. Outside the church were women selling baked goods, which I'm certain were made w/ wondrous lard.

Karin Fisher said...

I sent your cookies today but forgot to include the Christmas card. So, Have wonderful Christmas, and a fantastic new year.

Karin

Fr Martin Fox said...

Oh Karin you're wonderful!

Thank you!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Karin Fisher:

They just arrived; the staff likes them (and so do I!)

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

It helps to have a good knife for cutting up the chicken.

I am all for fried chicken, just not chicken fried steak!

How did it turn out.

ndspinelli said...

evi, When I moved to KC as a Vista volunteer, the first meal I was served was chicken fried steak. I had never been west of Pittsburgh and hadn't a clue what it was. I did not like it and gave it several tries after that. I hate the white gravy and have tried it w/o. I am the opposite of picky but I think you have to be Midwest white trashy to like it.

Jenny said...

Wow, that was ambitious, Father! I was born in NY state and raised in PA of Irish and Scotch-Irish parents, so never experienced fried chicken til I moved south (nor grits, nor sweet tea, nor collards...!). I've never had the courage to cook it, cuz I can't imagine doing it as well as they do here. My husband even has to fry the fish he catches, poor soul!
You are a brave cook! I'll bite: why lard?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Evi:

The chicken turned out well, although a little greasy; I assume that's because the oil wasn't hot enough?

Also, I would have liked it spicier, so the next time, I'll use some garlic powder and a lot more Franks.

Nds:

I love me some chicken-fried steak; but the key is a good piece of meat. I don't have it often.

Jenny:

My mother always said lard was the best for frying and baking; but she never used it, because in those days (the 1960s and 70s), the received wisdom was that lard was BAD for you, and vegetable substitutes like Crisco were much better.

Well, it turns out that's not true; so I decided to go with the best.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Jenny:

Frying chicken isn't all that hard, really. The only hard part is getting it finished. It's possible to do it in the fat; except I worry about cooking it too far. Or you can do as I did, and finish it in the oven.

I would prefer to have used a cast-iron skillet, but I don't own one. I intend to get one before long.

rcg said...

Well done, Father. I didn't even think of that as a joke until I typed it. I think you are right about the temperature of the oil, but you should also look into the moisture content of the batter and cooking time. The steam keeps the oils out during cooking. When it is gone the oil can seep in. Fry fewer pieces and the oil stays hotter, too.

I recommend good set of kitchen shears. Go for a pir that separate at the hinge for cleaning. One the most versatile tools you can have for the kitchen and they are faster and safer than a knife for cutting chicken or fish.

When you get the cast iron skillet spend the extra for one with a lid. That makes them great for roasting, braising, and baking, too.