Fried Chicken Secrets
Top chefs Marcus Samuelsson and others reveal the secrets for cooking up perfect fried chicken
While a recent CultureMap story singled out some of Houston's best fried chicken in celebration of National Fried Chicken Day, it's a dish you can also make at home if you have a sense of adventure. In researching the story, I asked some famous chefs for their No. 1 tip for making the best fried chicken right in your kitchen.
So grab your chef hat and apron, and read on.
Tip 1: Add the Rosemary
Samuelsson's favorite thing to do is to “Season the oil! I love rosemary,” he says. “Seasoning” is a technique of adding flavor to the oil so that the essence and taste of whatever you have seasoned it with permeates the meat as it cooks.
If you want to try Samuelsson's suggestion, just add a few rosemary sprigs (3 to 4) to your cooking oil and heat it over medium-high heat until the rosemary begins to briskly sizzle. Once that happens, remove the rosemary and discard it. Your oil is then ready to fry the chicken, which will acquire a lovely, herbaceous quality from the rosemary-infused oil.
Tip 2: Use a Cast Iron Skillet
Mark Holley, the former chef at Pesce, is also revered for his delectable family-style fried chicken dinners. He’s been doing them pop-up style for the last couple of years and, believe me, people seriously covet getting a seat at his events.
Holley’s tip is the key to making perfectly crispy chicken: “I like pan frying in a cast iron skillet rather than deep frying. When you’re done cooking, place the chicken on wire racks in a 325 degree oven and close the door for 2-3 minutes. The oil drips away leaving a crispy crust.”
Tip 3: Batter and Chill
The final tip comes from Max’s mastermind chef, Michael Pellegrino, who actually had two bits of advice for the home cook. If you’re going to fry chicken at home he says “Don't! It’s messy...come to Max's and we will do it for you. If you insist on cooking fried chicken at home, drink Champagne while cooking... it will make the chicken taste better, promise!”
He followed up that bit of chef-inspired wisdom with tip number 2: "After you batter your chicken, put it on a plate in the fridge and let it hang out there for at least 30 minutes before dropping it in your oil. This will make a better crust."
With expert tips like these, you can become a chicken frying guru in no time. But whether you want to fry your chicken yourself, or have someone prepare it for you, you now have all of the resources you need to make National Fried Chicken Day finger-lickin’ good.
Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.