Extra-Spicy, Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken
From Cook's Country
Preparing a fried chicken recipe at home can be a messy, time-consuming affair. For a fried chicken recipe that could be made at home without the big mess, we brined the chicken in heavily salted buttermilk to keep it moist and well-seasoned. For the crunchy coating, we combined flour with a little baking powder, then added buttermilk to make a thick slurry, which clung tightly to the meat. Frying the chicken with the lid on the pot for half the cooking time contained the spatter-prone oil and kept it hot. We also found that shortening provided the cleanest flavor and least-greasy chicken, while peanut oil was a close second.
Keeping the oil at the correct temperature is essential to producing crunchy fried chicken that is neither too brown nor too greasy. Use a candy/deep-fry thermometer to check the temperature of the oil before you add the chicken (see related testing). If you cannot find a chicken that weighs 3 1/2 pounds or less, or if you don't have a pan that is 11 inches in diameter, you will have to fry the chicken in two batches. Follow the recipe, frying the chicken four pieces at a time and keeping the first batch warm in a 200-degree oven while the second batch is cooking. If you want to produce a slightly healthier version of this recipe, you can remove the skin from the chicken before soaking it in the buttermilk. The chicken will be slightly less crunchy.
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