Fried chicken is one of those things people love to eat but hate to make. Granted it is not the healthiest way to eat chicken but to me it has to be one of the tastiest. I may not make it very often because of all the oil it uses the big cleanup that typical follows making fried chicken, but if you can make the time to make a big batch of it (provided the weather is cool enough in your kitchen in the summer to do it), it can be great to have for outdoor parties, picnics or as your favorite meal. Fried chicken is one of those things that tastes great anytime you want it, whether it is for dinner that night, cold for lunch the next day, re-heated or even as a late night snack. I have tried a bunch of fried chicken recipes in the past but recently i have found myself returning to this one from Melissa Clark at New York Times Cooking for make ahead fried chicken. It seems to strike the perfect balance of spices, good coating and great taste.
Make Ahead Fried Chicken
FOR THE MARINADE:
1 quart buttermilk
2 torn bay leaves
2 thinly sliced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
12 drumsticks or a mix of chicken pieces, about 2½ to 3 pounds of chicken
FOR THE COATING:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon good chile power such as chipotle powder
Corn, grapeseed or vegetable oil, for frying
Make the marinade: Whisk together all the marinade ingredients, except the chicken, and place the marinade in a large bowl or plastic bag. Submerge the chicken in the marinade, cover the bowl or seal the bag, and let the chicken rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or, better, overnight.
Make the coating: In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cayenne pepper, salt and chile powder. Place a paper bag inside another paper bag (this is to prevent seepage, use large bags or several small ones) and transfer the flour mixture into it. This is so you can shake the chicken pieces. (You can also just mix the flour in a large bowl and dredge the chicken parts in it, or use a heavy-duty plastic zipper bag for shaking.)
Take a piece of chicken out of the marinade and place it in the bag with the flour mixture. Close the bag and shake it so the chicken is fully coated. (Or, if you are using a bowl, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture.) Remove the chicken piece and place it on a plate or sheet pan. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken pieces, one by one. Let the chicken rest for 30 minutes so it can come to room temperature. Reserve the coating mixture.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy cast iron skillet with a lid, heat the oil until it reaches 350 degrees on an instant-read thermometer or candy thermometer. Just before frying, shake the chicken pieces in the coating mixture once again, one by one.
Fry the chicken for about 6 to 8 minutes in a covered pan, then uncover the pot and flip the chicken with tongs. Continue frying the chicken for about another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the coating is dark golden brown and the juices run clear when the meat is pricked with a fork.
Place chicken on a wire rack set over a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain and cool. Serve the chicken within 8 hours, but it’s best to serve within 4 hours.
The recipe indicates that you could leave the chicken at room temperature for 4 hours, and while you probably could I personally don’t feel right about and refrigerate it. I like cold fried chicken anyway so it’s fine with me and you don’t have to worry about any potential bacteria from leaving the food out too long. I made a mix of chicken pieces – wings, legs, thighs and breasts I had cut in half – and found that the timing worked out well, though I did make the chicken in batches and kept the finished pieces on the rack in a sheet pan in a warm 250 degree oven so that they kept warm. I also checked the temperature of the chicken along the way with my instant-read thermometer to make sure the pieces were at 165 degrees just to be safe. Keep a close eye on your oil and the temperature as you go along if you cook in batches to make sure it stays at the right temp so you can get an even crust on the chicken. The chicken was very flavorful and juicy thanks to the marinade and the double coating you put on the chicken really helps to give it a nice crunch. For the marinade I actually do not always use the Old Bay as Michelle finds it a bit overpowering, so I do occasionally leave it out and the chicken still tastes great. I still use other fried chicken recipes, but this is one that always seem to fall back on as a good go to recipe everyone likes. It tastes just as good the next day for lunch as it does the day you cook it.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!