This recipe is my attempt to make a traditional,
Southern pan-fried chicken as easily as possible. The hardest part, for beginners at least,
will be cutting up a whole, raw chicken into at least eight pieces. The reason you’ll
probably need to do that is because you need a small chicken — 3 to 3.25 pounds is perfect,
I think. The chicken pieces they sell pre-cut at grocery stores, in the States at least,
are usually from bigger, older birds — 4 or 5 pounders, maybe. You need a little one
for fried chicken, and you can usually only buy that whole. Even then, this 3-and-a-half
pounder was the smallest I could get. That’s the upper maximum of any bird I would consider
frying. If you’re scared about cutting this up,
I’m gonna get you through it. The first part is the most gruesome. You cut out the
chicken’s backbone with a pair of kitchen shears. Just snip up one side of the spine,
then snip up the other. With a small chicken it shouldn’t take too much grip strength.
Freeze that for stock, if you’re one of those people. Flip the bird around, and that is what is
amusingly referred to as a spatchcocked chicken, which is great for roasting whole. But we’re
gonna take a big, sharp chef’s knife and cut between the two breasts, right through
the breast bone. That might take some force, so commit to it!
We now have two half-chickens, and without the backbone, there’s almost nothing holding
the leg quarters to the breast quarters — just some skin and a little flap of flesh. Pull
the leg out away from the breast and cut through the skin connecting them. With that opened
up, you should be able to see this very thin area of meat connecting the two quarters.
Just slice through it on the board. You might catch a rib with your knife. Just crunch through
it, I say. Then, to separate the leg from the thigh, I cut between them until I hit
bone. Then I pick them up and hyperextend that joint. Literally dislocate it. Ideally,
it just pops apart, like that one did, and then all you gotta do is cut through the remaining
meat on the other side. Now here is the breast with the wing attached. Some people fry that
thing whole. I think that is way too much meat. Some people just cut off the wing, but
what I like to do is go up two-thirds of the way from that thin point, and cut down, right
through the bone. Alright, for review, let’s do this again
with the other half. Pull the leg away from the breast and cut through the skin between.
You’ll see a thin flap of flesh connecting the quarters. Just slice through that. Grab
the leg quarter. Cut into the crook between the leg and the thigh until you hit bone.
One hand on the thigh, one hand on the leg, hyperextend the joint. Sometimes the joint
won’t pop apart, but it will open up to where you can see the sinew connecting the
joint. Once it’s exposed, it’s really easy to fit your knife right into it and then
cut straight down to the board. There’s your thigh and leg. Now grab the breast, go
up two thirds of the way from the point, and cut down with some force, right through the
bone. There you go. Eight nice, tidy pieces of chicken, all of pretty similar size. I’d
call that enough for four people. Eat more fried chicken than that and it’s just gonna
end your day right there right there. Time to season. Really aggressively. Lots
of salt. These are thick pieces of meat that are gonna have a big, thick crust on them.
Lots of pepper. Then I sprinkle over onion powder, garlic powder, and you gotta pour
out a little cayenne for Chef John. Flip the pieces around and put the same stuff on the
other side. If you wanted an herbal note I’d suggest some dried sage and thyme. Then, I
just mop up the seasoning that’s left on the board with the big sides of those pieces
that haven’t gotten much seasoning yet. OK, now some people would dry-cure these pieces
in the seasoning, just like this, for a few hours before breading and frying. I’ve tried
that, that works really nice, and it gets you crispy skin. But I like the Southern-style
fried chicken that’s brined in buttermilk. The normal thing to do then would’ve been
to mix my seasoning in with buttermilk and then submerge my chicken. But I think that’s
too hard. I don’t want to do math and **** to calculate the proper salinity of a brine solution.
I can eyeball it by just seasoning the meat. The size and shape of the pieces tell me how
much to put on. Yes, I know I left out a leg. All the pieces go into a ziplock bag and rather
than submerge them, I pour in just enough buttermilk to coat the pieces in a thick paste
of seasoning and buttermilk. That was maybe half a cup. This gets you the exact same flavor
while wasting far less seasoning and buttermilk. Speaking of buttermilk, I mentioned in my
strawberries with pound cake video that you can approximate buttermilk by adding a splash
of vinegar to regular milk. I’m going to test whether that works with fried chicken
by using it on this leg. It gets its own little baggie. Throw the bag on a plate, throw the plate
in the fridge, and I brine for a full 24 hours. Some people will say that makes the pieces
too salty. I think they come out just right. But you could get away with less time. Alright, next day. For breading, I use a big
Tupperware and a rack. Get the chicken out to start warming up, that’ll help it cook
evenly. Dump two cups of flour in the Tupperware. Put in a teaspoon of salt, and the magic ingredient:
baking powder. A heaped teaspoon. I resisted this for years. I thought it would make the
crust cakey, but it doesn’t. It makes it light and crispy. Then I just grind in a bunch
of pepper and that’s it. This is really just precautionary seasoning. There’s plenty
of seasoning on that chicken already that’s gonna mix with the flour. You’ll see. And
I do not put any garlic or onion powder in the flour because it burns so easily. I want
it protected underneath the outermost crust layer. Meh, a little more cayenne for Chef
John. Put the lid on, then shake to combine everything. OK, as I pull each piece of chicken out, I’m
just scraping it against the bag to get off the drippiest drips of buttermilk. I’ll
put four pieces into the Tupperware at a time, then put the lid on and shake to coat. Alright,
pull those out onto a rack, and no, I’m not putting anything under that rack. I’m
gonna have to wipe down this whole table anyway so there is no point. Alright, rest of the chicken goes in the flour,
including our experimental leg brined in milk spiked with vinegar. Lid goes on, shake it
up. Vinegar leg is on the right, vinegar leg is
on the right, don’t let me forget, vinegar leg is on the right. Now that’s just the primer coat of crust.
The top coat will adhere a lot better if we use some egg. So, I crack an egg into my bag,
and I just beat it up with my fingers, combining it with all the remaining buttermilk-seasoning
paste. And all the chicken goes back in the bag whence it came. If you thought my crust
was going to be under-seasoned, think again. It’s getting another dose. Now, as each
piece comes out again, make sure it’s got an even, thin coating of egg sludge, I shake
it up again in the flour, four pieces at a time. Vinegar leg is on the right, vinegar leg is
on the right. Now, I’d let these pieces sit on the rack
for a good half hour. Some people call this step drying. I think that’s wrong. I think
it’s wetting. I think the flour particles are hydrating in the egg and buttermilk, and
that’s gonna help the crust hang together. To the oven. If you have a very, very large
frying pan, you might be able to fry all pieces at the same time. They might fit in there,
but with most ranges, you’re gonna get uneven heat. The middle is gonna be hotter than the
rim. The pieces in the middle might burn. You could cook the chicken in two batches
in sequence, but I rather fry in two smaller pans simultaneously. Two 10-inch skillets.
These are nonstick but I don’t think that really matters. This is a good-sized pan of
which to own multiples anyway, because it’s so versatile, and these were $25 each. We’ll
also need a rack for draining, and this is one of those times I think a meat thermometer
really helps. Vegetable oil, or peanut oil, or anything
neutral goes in and I’m just starting with half an inch of oil. The chicken is gonna
displace a lot, raising the oil level, and we can always add more oil if we need it.
I’ll put the burners on medium heat, and wait a few minutes until I see the oil kinda
swirling around on its own. I lay the pieces in skin-side down, because
the first side we cook is gonna look a little bit nicer in the end. Another advantage of
using two pans is you can put all the white meat in one, and all the dark meat in the
other. They cook differently, so it’s great to have independent control over them. There’s
the four breast pieces, now here come the thighs and legs. Vinegar leg is on the right,
vinegar leg is on the right, copy that? Vinegar leg is on the right. Now here’s what, I think, is the best temperature
at which to fry chicken. It is not a roaring boil, it’s not even a sizzle, it’s more
of a fizzle. I had to turn both of these burners down to virtually their lowest setting. I
just want the oil kinda fizzing. Let’s find out what temperature fizzing is. Wow, 250
Fahrenheit. That’s all. You might think I’m crazy, you might think
I’m never gonna get crispy chicken at such a low fry temperature, but here’s why this
works. These are big, thick pieces of chicken with bones still in them. They need to cook
a long time to cook all the way through. If we were to fry these at 350, the crust would
be way too dark by the time the meat was cooked, maybe even burned. I see that on Instagram
all the time. I like my fried chicken blonde-going-on-gold, never dark brown. If the crust is still looking
pale as the meat is getting close to done, we can just turn up the heat at the end to
crisp everything off really quickly. I flipped these after 15 minutes, when I could see that
the crust on the underside had fully formed. Throughout this process, you want your oil
level to come halfway up the sides of the chicken. I already had to add more oil to
the white meat pan, because those pieces are so tall, and even then, this one piece is
getting crazy tall as its proteins contract and it bunches up. Here’s the best solution
if this happens to you. Stand it up on its end. Mount Cluckmore! Alright, time to start checking the temperature.
You’re looking for 160 in the white meat. Take lots of measurements. You’re gonna
get a lot of weird readings as you hit pockets of oil or pieces of bone that’ll be way
hotter than the bulk of the meat. The old-fashioned way to check it if was done
was to pierce it and look at the color of the juice that spills out. See that red juice
coming out of the leg in the back there? That’s how you know that’s not done. The juice
should be clear. You can see at this point, I’m letting the
oil get hotter. The chicken is mostly cooked, so now it’s safe to start coloring the crust.
It’s been another 15 minutes since a flipped them, and at this stage I like to flip them
again. Just making sure that all sides are really crunchy. I’ve got my heat up to medium
now. The white meat is reading 160 to 165. This
bird is cooked. Out it comes to the rack. Again, I’m gonna have to wipe down the whole
range, there’s no point in putting something under the rack, don’t @ me. Vinegar leg
is on the right, roger wilco, vinegar leg is on the right. That was 35 minutes of cooking, total. If
we’d been frying a bigger bird, that would have taken way longer, it wouldn’t have
cooked as evenly, and there’d be way too much meat relative to the crust. Vinegar leg
is on the right. That’s why it’s worth cutting up your own 3-pounder. Meh, I’ll make one big chicken mountain,
that’ll be better for the thumbnail. Vinegar leg is on the right. And let’s taste it.
We’re seeing if chicken brined in fake buttermilk tastes the same as real buttermilk. Holy crap that’s good. Lauren tried both
legs too, and we agreed that the real buttermilk leg tastes a little better. But it’s a pretty
subtle difference that I doubt I’d notice in the absence of a direct comparison. At clean-up time, you could filter your fry
oil through a cheese cloth and use it again, but that’s not a thing I’m actually going
to do. I take it outside and bury it in my vegetable garden. It’s good fertilizer,
and you know you can’t just send this stuff down your drain, right? It’ll bust your
pipes, and that is not a euphemism. You don’t actually need to dig a hole, I
just want to totally preclude the possibility of my children splashing around in an oil
puddle. So how do you think I did? This video was
my entry in a little competition between myself and Tim over at Kitchen & Craft. Check out
his channel. He’s good. He’s like me but with a much nicer camera. He made his own
fried chicken video, and for the first few days these videos are up, you can vote on
who made it best. So, here’s how the rules work. Go down to the pinned comment at the
bottom of either video and simply reply with the name of you the person you want to vote
for. Just say, “Adam,” or “Tim.” At 8 p.m. on the Sunday following this release,
8 p.m. eastern time in the U.S., we will stop taking votes and we will tabulate the results,
and we will determine who won, and we will announce that winner on Monday. The winner will get … profit? I don’t
know. Just remember this is just for fun, so I hope you vote, and I hope you keep your
comments positive. We’re not making world peace here. We’re just making chicken. Though
honestly, this chicken is almost that good.