Prep: 15 min; Cook: 30 min
Total time: 45 min
Medium Difficulty Serves 4
IF you are expert at frying, skip to the ingredients.
FOR this Kentucky fried chicken recipe, you can use lard, crisco (shortening), or one of the vegetable oils. You can also add butter, if you choose, skimming off any foam that rises to the top while heating the oil. You can toss in chunks of ham or bacon to add flavor. Crucial are the skillet or pan, and the temperature of the oil. On my first try the oil was too hot; the result was burned, undercooked chicken. Oil that is not hot enough will not deliver crisp chicken.
CHICKEN should be at or near room temperature. IDEAL frying temperature is about 365 degrees F (185 C) - ascertained with a frying thermometer or by dropping a 2" square of bread in the hot oil - it should turn golden brown in about 60 seconds.
WHEN you have the right temperature, add the pieces slowly, one by one, and do not crowd them. Be patient and do two or more batches, if you must.
1 good chicken (Kosher or 'natural' chickens are usually best), at or near room temperature, cut into serving pieces, or use 8 to 10 leg pieces (drumsticks and thighs), trimmed of excess fat.
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
OR - Fines Herbes mix:
1 tsp chopped tarragon
1 tsp chopped chervil
1 tsp chopped chives
1 tsp chopped parsley
(or any combination of the above, plus whatever else you fancy)
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Enough oil or lard to fill skillet to a depth of about 1/2" - lard, lard and butter combined or vegetable: Crisco shortening, corn, canola, peanut. Canola or corn oil imparts the least flavor, lard the most. Crisco shortening seems to result in the 'crispest' chicken. Canola is considered the healthiest.
Large heavy skillet or casserole with cover; large mixing bowl; tongs or a big fork for handling chicken pieces, frying thermometer (ideally).
IN a bowl, mix chicken with salt, pepper, spices, garlic, chili, egg and 2 tablespoons water. When thoroughly combined, blend in flour, using your hands. Keep mixing until most of the flour is blended with other ingredients and chicken is coated (add more water or flour if mixture is too thin or too dry; it should be dry but not powdery and not too wet - it has to adhere to the chicken).
ADD enough fat (oil) to your skillet to come to a depth of about 1/2 inch and turn heat to medium. If you are using butter, skim any foam as it rises to the surface.
WHEN oil is hot (see introductory paragraphs) raise heat to high. Slowly add chicken pieces to skillet. Cover skillet, reduce heat to medium (more or less - oil should sizzle but not smoke) and cook for 7 minutes.
UNCOVER skillet, turn chicken and continue to cook, uncovered, for another 7 minutes.
TURN chicken again and cook for about 5 minutes more, turning as necessary to ensure that both sides are golden brown.
REMOVE chicken from skillet and drain on paper towels placed on newspaper (for additional absorption). Serve chicken immediately, or cold.