There are a lot of “secret recipes” for fried chicken. Some cooks swear by soaking the chicken overnight in buttermilk, others soak it in brine, or dip in beer batter, and a light coating of seasoned flour, some roll it in breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers.
Experiment with different seasonings and methods until you fnd your favorite.
Put your ingredients into large shallow bowls or baking dishes. Then work in one direction (left to right,), moving from seasoned flour to egg batter over to coating mixture.
Have one “wet hand” and one “dry hand”–and use your “wet” hand to transfer chicken from the wet mixture to the coating bowl.
Before putting the coated chicken into hot oil, allow it to rest, which will give the coating a chance to adhere. (Do this step in the refrigerator if you won’t be frying the chicken within half an hour.) LET SIT UNTIL THE FLOUR IS OF A PASTE-LIKE CONSISTENCY. THIS IS CRUCIAL! This ensures a very crispy crust on your chicken.
The two main keys to making perfect fried chicken are the temperature of the oil and the actual step of frying. Choose oils with a high smoke point vegetable shortening, lard, and peanut oil are all good choices.
To get truly golden-brown and crispy chicken, use a cast iron skillet. You just can’t beat cast iron for even heat distribution. The grease should be about one inch deep in the skillet. Get the oil good and hot about 350 degrees before adding the chicken.
Using tongs, carefully put chicken pieces into the oil skin-side down.
Fry in batches, if you overcrowd the pan it will lower the temperature of the oil, causing more oil to be absorbed and result in soggy, greasy chicken. When browned, reduce heat and cover skillet, let cook for 30 minutes (the chicken will be cooked through but not crispy). Remove cover, raise heat again and continue to fry until crispy.
When the chicken pieces are a deep golden brown, remove them to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to catch any drips. Use a thermometer to make sure the chicken is fully cooked before moving on to the next batch. 165 degrees is the rcommended temperature although I generally go for 180 degrees.
It takes a lot of oil to deep-fry, and it’s best to start with fresh oil every time. Reused oils are more rancid and can give your chicken off flavors. If you do reuse your oil, strain the cooled cooking oil through a coffee filter.