Fishing in the Almost-Dark and Making Fried Chicken
March 9, 2011, 9:13 am
Filed under: gastronomy | Tags: , ,

Fried chicken? Success. Take away fried chicken? Redundant. Admittedly, I was nervous about cooking in hot oil, but I dealt with this by using a tin pot instead of a pan, which seemed to keep splatters under control. It worked especially well on a gas stove that throws a lot of consistent heat very quickly. I modified the basic steps that kept popping up in recipes to come up with this:

Need: chicken, flour, milk, egg, spices, oil.

1) chop up pieces of bone-in chicken so as to make them about half the size of a normal breast, try to keep skin well attached but avoid trimming any excess if it gets a little loose.
2) rinse the chicken pieces, let dry while getting to the rest
3) whisk an egg, some milk and any wet spices (ex. hot sauce) to the consistency of french toast batter. Fattier milk is better to make a custard-like coating that will stick well.
4) blend a substantial amount of flour (1 cup +) with a teaspoon of black pepper, a quarter teaspoon of salt, and whatever other spices seem like a good idea (some say paprika, I went with chili powder and a little mystery meat spice)
5) heat the oil while dredging the chicken well, first in the flour mix then in the egg mix. My attempts at a double coating were not as good as just making the first coat nice and thick. Roll the chicken pieces around a lot. [I cooked about 3 large pieces of chicken, chopped into five pieces, in about 2/3 a cup of oil. Some recipes call for way more, this seems like overkill.]. I had the oil on the highest temperature, but it’s important not to let oil sit at this temperature for very long because it poses an increasing fire risk when the chicken gets in I think.
6) drop the chicken into the oil skin side (if there is one) down. Leave to a golden brown, letting the batter solidify, for a couple of minutes. Flip. Brown more. Light golden brown, firm batter is sufficient – no need to aim for KFC colour yet.
7) turn heat down way low, at least on a gas stove, cover, cook for about half an hour. To me, this seemed crazy, so I kept checking on it, but it was totally fine. I actually switched to a lower level burner during this process. Now, Make some vegetable sides, do some dishes, do not leave oil on a stove alone. Your kitchen will start to smell vaguely like an old school KFC, not in a bad way.

Last: Remove the lid, turn the chicken over in the oil, cook five more minutes until desired level of crispy brownness is reached on the skin. Remove chicken from the oil and let the pieces drain and cool a bit. Let the oil cool in the stove before trying to remove it from the pot.

In the future, I’d like to tweak a spicier version. The batter/oil combo has given rise to all kinds of ideas about what could be gently fried in the future, from wontons to jalapenos. Overall, living somewhere without a wide variety of restaurants has created incentive to just make whatever might normally be picked up, to fulfill the cravings at home. This also means control over the salt, fat and random ingredients that might end up in the food.

Yesterday after dinner we went fishing at the rock pond where we normally snorkle and swim. LG dove around the baited hook to check what the fish were doing. They did not enjoy the sardine bait we had picked out, though they were checking it out, and the wind was ripping by the rocks where I was manning the line, blowing in a storm that would go all night. LG thinks we should get a spear gun to improve our fishing odds. I think we just need to get more tempting bait.


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