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Fried chicken

  • 7th Sep, 2005 at 2:11 AM

It's really difficult to resist well-fried food. Where there's this crispy, delicious batter surrounding something tender and wonderful in the centre. No hint of grease, no unseemly fat; just crunchy flavourful goodness.

Whether you are dreaming of cod, tempura, tofu, or a candy bar; frying is the best. I think fried chicken is second-to-none for picnic food. It's self-contained, portable, and works well hot or cold. There's something about gnawing on a chicken bone that's so very satisfying.

This recipe comes from several sources. It came first from Jim's cookbook from when he and I lived in Village 3. Then, it was modified with some inspiration from Nigella Lawson. It was Nigella that introduced me to the poaching step, which I find makes the chicken incredibly tender and thoroughly cooked.

Don't be afraid of the hot oil in this recipe. The worst that can happen is that you will knock the hot oil off the stove, splashing yourself in the face (disfiguring it permanently), blinding yourself, and having it catch on fire, whereby you turn into a human torch. But most of the time, you'll just get delicious food.

Fried chicken


  • 6 chicken legs
  • 5mL salt
  • 10 dried cloves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • milk
  • 250mL all-purpose white flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250mL breadcrumbs
  • 15mL cayenne pepper
  • 15mL paprika
  • 10mL salt
  • 15mL black pepper
  • 30mL dried basil
  • vegetable oil
  • small onion


  1. In a small saucepan, arrange your chicken pieces so they all fit. I like to use chicken legs, because there are drumsticks to hold on to.
  2. Add the salt, cloves, and minced garlic, and then cover the chicken with milk.
  3. Poach the chicken gently for about 10 minutes. The milk will curdle a bit, and the mixture might look a bit weird, but this is normal.
  4. While this happening, you'll want to set up your breading station. Get three wide tins or bowls. In the first, dump in the flour. In the second, beat the eggs. In the third, put in the breadcrumbs.
  5. In each of the tins, put in a third of each seasoning: cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, and basil. The goal of this is to have all parts of the breading seasoned.
  6. I like to shallow fry, so this is what I do. I get my big cast-iron skillet and fill it with three to four centimetres of fresh vegetable oil. Then I chunk up a small onion, and toss that in. I cover the pan with a lid and heat on medium-high, until the onion starts to sizzle.
  7. Here's the messy (and arguably fun) part. Take a chicken leg out of the milk and shake off the excess liquid. Put it in the flour mixture, coat it lightly, and shake off the excess. Put it in the egg, roll it around, and shake off the excess. Put it in the breadcrumbs, get it coated well, and (you got it) shake off the excess.
  8. Place the end of the leg into the oil, and let it fall away from you. That way, if it splashes, you won't get your shirt dirty. The oil should come a little over halfway up the side of the chicken.
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for each leg of chicken.
  10. Once you've done that, the first piece is probably browned already. Take a pair of tongs and peek underneath it. If it's a nice golden colour, flip it over. It should take another minute or two, before the other side is browned.
  11. Get a plate ready, and line it with two or three sheets of paper towel. When the chicken is done, remove it to this plate, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Just before serving the chicken, remove the paper towel, which will likely be quite greasy.
  12. Let the oil cool and then discard it in a tin can that you can seal up. Pouring it down the sink may cause nasty clogs.

Serves 6 picnickers.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
7th Sep, 2005 14:36 (UTC)
My gas stove came with a bunch of pictures of the stove tipping over, spilling what I assume is burning hot liquid on whoever tipped it. There's even one of a baby climbing on the open oven door and causing it to tip.

I'll have to try this next time I fire up my deep frier.
7th Sep, 2005 16:10 (UTC)
I have to say, if you're going to try having a baby tip over your oven, I'd suggest doing it when there's not a pan full of boiling oil on the top of it. Just a suggestion :)
7th Sep, 2005 17:06 (UTC)
I have no access to babies, so I'll have to find some other way of tipping my oven. Good point about the oil, though :)
7th Sep, 2005 22:46 (UTC)
You can also drain the chicken on a rack over a cookie sheet. Alton Brown suggests this to keep the chicken from getting soggy.

It's been a while since we've done a good chicken fry down here. I'm feeling inspired (and hungry O:-)
8th Sep, 2005 20:11 (UTC)
[sarcastic mode] Does the all purpose flour really have to white? What about the bread crumbs? Do I have to use white bread for them? [/sarcastic mode]
8th Sep, 2005 20:15 (UTC)
You almost certainly want the all-purpose flour to be white. Having too much bran in it will prevent the egg from sticking as well.

Your bread crumbs can be of any kind, although I'd recommend something flakey and crusty, like panko.

Oh, I'm sorry, were those rhetorical?
8th Sep, 2005 20:43 (UTC)
Sarcastic yes, rhetorical, no. I did wonder if you had a reason for specifying as you did, or if it was just habit. I tend to use organic, stone ground, whole wheat flour, when I'm breading schnitzel, and it works just fine.

Just out of curiousity, why do you recommend flakey & crusty for the bread crumbs? And what is "panko"?

P.S. The recipe sounds yummy and I will probably give it a try - using only whole grain products. Hell, I'm not gonna go shopping for stuff I don't want to have in my kitchen ;)
8th Sep, 2005 20:57 (UTC)
Soft bread crumbs are good for stuffing. Flakey bread crumbs make that wonderful crisp coating on fried foods. Panko is a Japanese bread crumb that is especially nice for this purpose.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )