Fried Chicken

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Fried chicken, biscuits, and chard (for a healthy touch…).

It may have been all stars and stripes in NY in the wake of our departure, but it was mostly business as usual here in the garden on the 4th of July. Still, maybe it was reading blog posts about people’s days, or emails from family, but yesterday my mom and I suddenly found ourselves on fire to fry a chicken.
I make fried chicken approximately once a year, and I always use my aunt’s recipe. She knew that I loved it, so she used to make it for me every time I visited her and my uncle in Portland, OR. (That and pigs’ feet in black vinegar. Mmmmm….) When it came time for me to try and make it on my own, I turned to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and discovered his very clever method for frying chicken and combined it with Auntie’s recipe. This, then, is how we fry chicken at my house:

Auntie Ga’s Fried Chicken

1 chicken, butchered to your liking
2 cups milk
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
1 teaspoon salt
flour for dredging
A big fry pan with a lid
A timer
oil for frying (my aunt used Crisco, my cousin revealed to me. Daisy from Coolcookstyle fed me rumors of chicken fried in bacon fat — oh, if only! Do what you must.)

1. At least an hour beforehand, combine the milk, garlic, five spice and salt in a big bowl and submerge the chicken in its tasty bath.
2. When you are ready to fry, get out your big fry pan and fill it 1/2 inch deep with oil. I’d like to tell you to heat it to about 300 degrees, but really, using a thermometer just illustrated how wildly the oil temperature in my pan fluctuates. Mark Bittman says that when a pinch of flour sizzles upon contact with the oil, it’s ready.
3. While the oil is heating, dredge the chicken in flour. If your five spice has been sitting around for years like mine, you may want to add a teaspoon or so to the flour, and if you like salt you might want to toss in a hefty pinch or two.
4. Now here’s where a timer comes in handy. You will need to gently lay your chicken pieces in the oil (not too many, now!) and cover the pan. Cook for 7 minutes, noting with satisfaction that all that popping is going on safely under the lid of your pan and not spraying your entire kitchen with oil. Then uncover, turn over, and cook for another 7 minutes (try not to be disappointed if the oil takes this opportunity to make up for lost time). Finally, turn once more and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Keeping the chicken in the oven (300 F) will keep it nice and hot and ensure that it is cooked well, but I had biscuits in there, so I couldn’t and the chicken was just fine.

Sour cherries are in season at the moment. Unfortunately, our grand total harvest of cherries for the year was 5 cherries. I’m not proud, so I bought 3 kilos of cherries at the market yesterday and made a cherry pie for dessert with some of them. (The rest are going into jam and into cherry liquer, which I will write about soon.) All in all, not a light meal, but a tasty one.

On a more self-sufficient and healthy note, the garden did provide a some tasty plums. I went down to the tree and I gave it a food hard shake, which elicited a hearty giggle from Kaya (who was on my back in his carrier). I hunted around for the plums and rounded up a nice big bowl of them. They’re very nice — firm and sweet-tart.

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12 thoughts on “Fried Chicken

  1. That looks like some mighty fine chicken! I love the trick of marinating it in milk and 5-spice powder. Is the powder really noticeable? Good tip about the lid too. I never thought of that before. And I will try the timer method. Really brilliant and much preferable to standing over a pot of boiling oil!

    And I love chicken fried in Crisco! Food fascists can stone me for that statement, but I will have some of the crispiest chicken in all the land!

    I just about how enough bacon fat saved up. A few more pounds of bacon and we are golden 😉 Golden brown fried chicken!

    1. Mmmm… bacon fat. I think that you might actually be responsible for our fried chicken dinner because when I told my mon about that idea she really flipped.
      The five spice powder is very noticeable, and tasty. I wish I could have gone all the way and used Crisco but alas, no such thing here. My arteries are no doubt relieved.
      But I’m still haunted by the thought of that bacon fat…

      1. I know! After I heard about it, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head either. That’s when I started saving tubs of bacon fat in the freezer 🙂

        I can imagine that tubs of hydrogenated fat are probably hard to find outside of the US. How about clarified butter? 🙂

        I read about someone using coconut oil, but their chicken ended up really coconutty. It made me think that chicken wouldn’t be the best thing for coconut oil, but coconut shrimp? Oh yeah!

      2. Clarified butter? Coconut shrimp? Who are you?? Holy cow- I can feel a clarified butter fixation coming on. And my mother is officially obsessed with the vision of a vat of bacon fat (spell check suggests bat). She collected a jar and we forgot to take it with us – I can feel her sizing up how many more pounds of bacon she has to go.
        Sad about the shortening though, isn’t it? My cousin made us biscuits with Crisco and they were awesome. Though since I’m so suggestible, maybe it’s best that shortening and I are continents apart.

  2. I, too, really enjoy fried chicken. It’s a real treat. I once read where some put a slice of bacon or two in the oil before frying the chicken. It helps to give the chicken that bacon fat flavor we all crave. And those are some pretty plums you’ve got there. Very nice.

    1. Oh those were the days! I’ll have to try it that way the next time I’m around shortening. I love the flavor of the five spice in the chicken- I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  3. Hi.
    Thanks for popping by my blog.
    I haven’t had fried chicken in SO long, I think it’s meant to be a good thing, but now I’m really craving some! This looks delicious 🙂 And those scones look fantastic too (assuming that’s what you meant by biscuits 😉 )

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