This was supposed to be Bears Victory Chicken, but they lost – embarrassingly. And so, it’s just deep fried chicken. It may or may not also be considered southern fried chicken, but I still have no idea what makes something southern fried.
Lately, I’ve been doing all my chicken frying in my cast iron skillet. But I think I like deep frying much better. There’s less splatter, it’s harder to mess it up, and it cooks way faster.
1. butcher it: I went to Marketplace and bought a pack of 3 chicken pinwheels. A pinwheel is the leg portion of a chicken. At this particular grocery store (and probably to decrease butchering time/effort), the pinwheel also includes a small portion of the hip.
I cut this up so that the three pinwheels were separated into three thighs and three drumsticks. The total cost for all this chicken was $1.70! That’s less than 60 cents per piece. And you thought whole chicken was cheap.
2. marinade it: I put the chicken in a big bowl and covered it with buttermilk for a couple hours. Buttermilk is ridiculously cheap, even at Trader Joe’s. Lately, I’ve been using it to make ranch dressing, which is consistent with my latest obsession in ridding the fridge of as many condiment bottles as possible. (I am down to two types of jelly, one bottle of ketchup, three kinds of mustard, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, worchestershire, one kind of barbecue sauce, one kind of mayo, and two kinds of hot sauce. It’s getting better.)
3. heat it: get the oil ready. I used vegetable oil in my big dutch oven that my mother-in-law got me for Christmas last year. I used about a quart and a half of oil. And I was looking for a temp of about 400 degrees.
4. dredge it: take a piece of chicken, let some of the buttermilk drip off, and then put it into the dredge. On this particular day, I used a mixture of mostly flour with some corn starch. Other people like to put a whole bunch of stuff, like pepper or paprika or whatever into their dredge. I think all this does is make your cooking oil taste funny afterwards.
I have my own special dredging rig. It’s a big plastic Glad container with a lid. I put the chicken in a couple pieces at a time and give it a vigorous shake.
5. fry it: tap off some of the excess flour and drop the chicken into the hot oil. It will sizzle like mad. The temperature will drop. That happens. When I put the chicken in, my burner was on high. I left it on high when the chicken went in. It never dipped below 350, which I feel is acceptable.
The nice part about using my dutch oven is that it has a heavy duty cover. This is nice because it keeps the splatter and some of the frying odors somewhat contained, which is a plus in my tiny Chicago kitchen that has no vent in it.
All six pieces were able to fit somewhat snugly in the fryer, and I fried the chicken for about ten to fifteen minutes total, flipping it around a couple of times while it fried.
I used my thermometer to check on the internal temp of the chicken, and mine registered over 180, indicating that I had overcooked it. But you know what? Even slightly overcooked fried chicken is still friggin marvelous.
6. rest it: when the chicken was done, I drained off as much oil as I could and then let it all rest on a wire rack set above a baking sheet. The resting is important here, not so much from a culinary sense, but because otherwise you will have to spend a lot of the next morning whimpering over a burn blister on your lip.
7. eat it: I served this with a side salad and some corn bread muffins (recipe). I also happened to have some cheddar biscuits left over from the weekend, so I reheated some of those too, which turned this meal into a veritable bread bonanza. And it was good.