The Basics of Country Fried Chicken
Here in the Texas Pure kitchen we love baking. We don’t just love it, we’re obsessed with it! That being said, not everything made with flour is a baking project. Take for instance the most classic of all Southern foods…fried chicken. There are a few things you need to know when setting out to make perfect fried chicken that's tender, juicy and flavorful.
Brine or Marinade
We tried several different brine solutions to give us a ton of extra flavor with our chicken. Some cooks soak their chicken in buttermilk, cola or a premade salad dressing marinade. Our secret ingredient brine is pickle juice. It sounds odd, but the flavor will not overwhelm your chicken with pickle flavor, especially if you use a kosher pickle juice.
Dredging chicken in a highly seasoned flour coating is the easiest method for getting the thin crisp crust associated with delicious fried chicken. Our favorite way to do this is to use either a large bowl, or a large heavy paper or plastic bag with a few pieces of chicken at a time. You should always dredge the chicken just a few minutes before frying. Leaving the chicken to rest in the coating too long will result in the chicken not getting as crispy as it could in the frying oil.
Chicken, once coated with the flour mixture, needs to be shaken off and gently placed in hot frying oil until golden brown and remarkably crunchy.
A few chef tips:
Use metal tongs to turn the chicken in the oil a few times.
Don’t crowd too much chicken in the pan.
Use plenty of oil, but not so much that it splatters all over.
Using a pan with high sides with help keeping your kitchen clean.
Granny used to fry chicken in shortening or lard or a combination of shortening and vegetable oil. Healthy non-saturated oils like Avocado Oil mixed with vegetable oil or peanut oil is preferred. These oils have a higher smoking point (they can be heated to a higher temperature without burning). You can deep fry the chicken in a lot of oil, or you can shallow fry it in a little less, but if you go the less-oil route, the fat should rise to at least halfway up the pieces to ensure even frying.
Chicken should be fried at 350°F. Testing the temperature is the best way to ensure it turns out well. You will be cooking the chicken in a few batches, so be sure to bring the oil back up to the full temperature before adding new chicken. Use a meat thermometer to check the finished internal temperature of 165°F .
Take a Rest
Let the chicken rest a few minutes before serving. Preferrably rest the chicken on wire rack to keep the crispy coating crisp. Sprinkle with a little salt for a little extra flavor if desired.
Texas Country Fried Chicken
2 cups pickle juice
1 cup Texas Pure Milling Organic all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp garlic salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp ground thyme
3 cups peanut oil, avocado oil, or a neutral oil like canola, more as needed
Put 2 cups pickle juice into a large bowl and add the chicken to it. Cover and place in the refrigerator for a few hours and up to overnight, turning a few times along the way. Combine flour, garlic salt, pepper, paprika, seasoning and thyme in a paper bag large enough to accommodate the flour and the pieces of chicken. Pour oil into a large, heavy-bottomed cast-iron skillet with high sides and a lid, to a depth of a few inches. Heat oil over medium-high heat to 350°F. Place the chicken pieces in the paper bag filled with the flour mixture and shake well to coat, or toss them in the bowl with the flour mixture to achieve a similar result. Shake off excess flour and fry the pieces of chicken skin-side down, in batches so as not to crowd the pan, for about 10 minutes, covered by the lid. Remove the lid, turn over the chicken pieces, and cook for about 5 to 15 minutes more, uncovered, until they are cooked through and a deep golden brown. Color is as or more important than time: Watch your chicken and get it out when it's golden brown and an internal temperature of over 165°F. Remove chicken to the rack to drain and rest, sprinkle with salt and serve warm.