The Paper Towel Mistake To Avoid While Draining Fried Chicken

While many of us drain the excess grease from freshly fried chicken using paper towels, it turns out it's how you use those paper towels that's the real key to yielding fried chicken gold. Although pairing your paper towels with a wire cooling rack is one way to avoid a fried chicken misstep, it's not nearly as effective as this recent hack pioneered by celebrity chef Carla Hall, former co-host of "The Chew."

According to Food & Wine, Hall uses crumpled paper towels instead of laying them flat. The result is superior fried chicken that retains its crispiness all the way around (i.e. no soggy bottom). The reason? When you lay your chicken on flat paper towels (as it's most often done), there's limited surface area for the grease to drain onto. Since a flat paper towel can only absorb so much, once the initial grease has saturated the towel, a pool of oil begins to form that your chicken ends up soaking in. The end result is the dreaded "soggy bottom" that ruins your perfect crunch of golden-battered goodness.

Enter the crumple method.

How to drain fried chicken with crumpled paper towels

To use Hall's crumpled paper towel technique, loosely ball up some paper towels. The amount depends on how much chicken you've fried. Then, place them on a cookie sheet, plate, or another surface where oil can collect without making an epic mess. Next, rest your freshly fried chicken on top of the crumpled paper towels while it drains its excess oil for several minutes. This technique offers a couple of key elements to help maximize crunch. First, the weight of the chicken is distributed more evenly, allowing it to drain more effectively. But perhaps more importantly, the crumpling creates different surface heights with spaces in between that allow air to flow freely around and underneath the chicken, preventing it from getting soggy from either grease or moisture created by residual heat.

Once the grease has drained and your coating has settled, simply discard the paper towels and enjoy 360 degrees of deliciously crispy chicken. And be sure to try this technique out on your other favorite fried foods, like fried shrimp, zucchini, or mushrooms.