Come Fry with Me
We've declared August 11-22 Fried Chicken Fortnight. Look out for two weeks full of recipes for prime crispiness, chef tips and more.
There are few foods that feel more consummately American than fried chicken. (Respect, burgers and hot dogs. But do you come in a bucket? No, you do not.) But we gotta admit the golden, crispy, juicy bird is definitely a global phenomenon. Time to start planning your fried chicken world tour.
True American fried chicken is not the deep-fried, thickly battered stuff of fast food buckets. Real Southern-style fried chicken is coated in an egg and milk mixture before being dredged in a dry mix, typically made up of cayenne, paprika, garlic and onion powder and flour. It fries slowly, being turned only once, in inch-deep oil (usually vegetable or Crisco) in a large skillet, preferably a well-seasoned cast iron number owned by your grandmother. Pair with biscuits, gravy and ice-cold beer. USA!
Fried twice is just as nice. To ensure a crunchy bite without a lot of grease, the Korean version is dunked twice resulting in a crust that's thinner and crispier than its American counterpart. It's not coated in flour, so the exterior is all skin, typically dressed in a sweet-spicy sauce of soy, Korean chile paste, vinegar, sesame oil and honey.
Known as karaage, the home-style chicken is cut into small pieces (a single breast yields six nuggets) and marinated in ginger, garlic and soy before being dipped into whisked eggs and corn starch and twice-fried in a manner similar to tempura. Flavorful, easy-to-handle juicy bites with a nice crunch—the perfect bar snack.
There's no bone to pick with schnitzel, made of chicken or pork and eaten mostly in Germany, Austria and the United States. The process here is all about evenness: Pound your butterflied cutlet until it's about ¼-inch thick, then dredge in flour, dusting off the excess before dipping in egg. Let the egg drip off before evenly coating the cutlet in bread crumbs and quickly frying in canola oil. The result will be a thin, crispy, oily cutlet typically served with spaetzle and braised red cabbage.
Thai-style fried chicken is meant to be eaten with sticky rice, so the marinade has to be strong. A classic marinade is made up of garlic, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, cilantro, oyster sauce, salt and sugar, and soaks into the chicken for at least six hours. The coating on this is thinner and not crunchy like the American version. Serve with Thai sweet chilli sauce and warm sticky rice.
The secret to this dish is peanut flour, which "gives the crust a nutty, feathery crunch." The seasoning combines peanut flour, sea salt, ground ginger, onion and garlic powders, cayenne and black pepper. It should cover the chicken and refrigerate overnight. Coat in plain flour before frying and serve with sautéed plantains and sautéed greens.
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