Friday, March 11, 2011

four-star fried chicken

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So I made some changes to the design of the blog, mostly just because I was tired of looking at the old site. The new design has some big benefits though. When I finish adding the necessary links to the "Recipes" tab, it will be a heck of a lot easier to pull up a recipe from the site on my phone (I find myself doing this quite a bit at the grocery store). I think my favorite addition, though, is the "Worthy Reads" tab. A combination of blogs and books, this tab has almost all of my favorite literary kitchen resources. (Though not mentioned, I also utilize the recipe databases on and There are only three blogs listed, and I can't say that I keep up with them on a daily basis, but they are the first three blogs I visit when I'm looking for a new recipe. The books section, however, is the bread and butter of this tab. (Or maybe the cupcake and frosting?)

I must confess that I really, really like my cookbook collection. In fact, just looking at it -- all the books neatly arranged by type and height -- brings me joy. For someone who prepares meals as infrequently as I do (a factor of my life situation at the moment...not really my choice), a collection of more than seventy books is truly unnecessarily large. Over the course of my life and even when (if?) my opportunities to cook increase, I'll be lucky to make it through a quarter of the recipes it contains now. That doesn't matter much to me, though. For some reason, having all of those recipes within arms reach -- no typing required and most on glossy pages with beautiful pictures to accompany them -- makes me happy. There are surely more cookbooks (and a new bookcase) to come.

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My attempt at Four-Star Fried Chicken -- a recipe from the book Carl and Renée gave me -- only yielded three stars, but I'm certain it was because of the changes I made, not because the recipe is lacking in some fashion. When making the brine, I misread the recipe -- failed to read it, actually -- and decided to double the brine in order to have enough to cover all of the chicken. This didn't seem to cause any problems; my chicken was still perfectly moist and flavorful.

My second change, however, did affect the taste of the chicken. When I finished coating the chicken with flour and was ready to begin frying, I noticed that Mom and Dad didn't have nearly enough vegetable oil to get the job done. Not wanting to put lunch on hold for another 45 minutes while I ran to the store to get more, I substituted the only other oil in the pantry: peanut oil. The chicken fried up just fine, but the peanut oil gave the skin a flavor that was slightly off -- not unpleasant, but not satisfying the way good fried chicken skin should be. Other than that, the chicken was fantastic. I'd really like to give this recipe another shot (with the proper frying oil) the next time I'm home. Mostly just because my family is unfailingly enthusiastic about homemade comfort food dinners like this one, but it certainly doesn't hurt that the Wolf warming drawer in Mom and Dad's kitchen makes batch frying process a breeze.

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Four-Star Fried Chicken
From Memorable Recipes to Share with Family and Friends
Serves 8

4 bone-in chicken breasts, halved crosswise
4 bone-in chicken thighs
4 chicken drumsticks
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

4 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper

To Brine the Chicken:
Combine all of the brine ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to mix until the salt is dissolved. Add the chicken pieces, which should be fully covered by the brine; add a bit more cold water if needed to cover. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours, gently stirring once or twice.

To Fry the Chicken:
Combine the flour, salt, garlic powder, cayenne, and pepper in a large bowl and whisk to mix. Cover a large baking sheet with a thin layer of flour. Line another baking sheet with a few layers of brown paper or paper towels.*

Drain the chicken and pay dry with paper towels, discarding the leftover brine. Toss each piece of chicken in the flour mixture to evenly coat and then transfer to the floured baking sheet. Let sit for 10 minutes. Toss once again in the flour to ensure a thorough coating, which will help reduce splattering when fried. Let sit 10 minutes before frying.

Meanwhile, pour 2-3 inches of oil in a wide, deep, heavy pot. (The oil should come no more than halfway up the sides of the pan for safety.) Heat the oil over medium heat to 365 degrees. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Slip 3 or 4 pieces of the dredged chicken into the hot oil, taking care not to crowd them.** Cook, turning a few times, for about 20 minutes, until the skin is nicely browned and the juices run clear when the thickest part is pierced with a knife. Transfer the fried chicken to the paper-lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while frying the remaining pieces.

* As you can see in the picture above, I used dinner plates instead of baking sheets when coating my chicken. Not necessarily easier, but plates fit into our dishwasher whereas baking sheets do not.

** I HIGHLY recommend a splatter screen for this step. It drastically reduces the mess as well as your chances of receiving first degree burns during the frying process.


  1. Yay! I just found your blog and I love it! I'm a fellow ND grad & I have a food blog! I started mine for the same reasons you started yours -- new place, lots of free time. Check it out if you like:

    Go Irish!

  2. Hi, Kristen -- thanks for your comment, and I love the pictures of the rose cake on your blog. It's gorgeous!

    (Only a few more days until the start of Irish football season!)