Are you still looking for the perfect fried chicken recipe? News flash: you may already know it. You’re just not doing something right. Here’s what you might be doing that is preventing you from achieving fried chicken perfection.
1 Forgetting to brine.
If the chicken isn’t as flavorful as it should be, brining solves any flavorless issue. There’s two ways to do this: a wet and dry brine.
To wet brine, submerge chicken in a flavored salt solution, usually the liquid has enough salt to taste like the sea. The chicken should sit in the liquid for 4 hours, covered, in the ref or overnight. Then drain and dry the chicken pieces before breading.
To dry brine chicken, liberally sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and other seasonings all over. Then, you’re going to let the seasoning dry out the surface of the chicken pieces and eventually seep into the skin and meat overnight in the refrigerator for as little as an hour, uncovered, to as long as 48 hours, covered, before breading. Whether you use the wet or dry technique, the resulting brined chicken is always going to be a more flavorful one than an unbrined chicken.
2 Not drying the chicken before cooking.
Any wetness on the chicken when it goes in the hot oil is going to result in a wet, soggy piece. So, avoid that by patting those chicken pieces dry as much as possible using a kitchen towel or a liberal amount of paper towels. Better yet, if you used a wet brine, air dry the pieces by letting it sit out, uncovered, for about a hour or until the surface is dry to the touch. If you used the dry brine method, you’re in luck. You skipped a step.
3 Not seasoning at every step.
If any part of the chicken tastes bland compared to the rest of it, more likely than not you didn’t season during the breading process. Season the beaten egg, season the flour, and season the chicken pieces if it hasn’t been brined. The breading process gives the chicken a coat that adds more flavor as well as texture to the fried chicken you’ll be cooking. Skimping or plain skipping the process will result in chicken that isn’t as flavorful as it can be.
4 Not dredging it properly.
We repeat: wet spots are potential soggy spots, so once it goes in the flavored flour, dredge the chicken pieces well until every nook and cranny is covered in flour. Don’t be afraid; press the chicken down in the flour well and good, and you have the beginnings of truly crunchy fried chicken skin.
For extra crispy skin, double dredge. Dunk it back quickly in the buttermilk or egg mixture after the first coating, and dredge it again in the seasoned flour, pressing in until it’s a fully coated chicken piece that’s ready to go into the oil.
5 Not regulating the heat.
Deep-fry temperature is about 325°F, so if you notice the chicken is browning–burning!–faster than it is cooking, lower your heat a bit. Keep cooking at a slightly lowered temperature until cooked through. If you’re using a deep fry thermometer, you’ll actually see the temperature rising even after the chicken is added. Keep an eye on that thermometer, and the chicken that emerges from it will be the fried chicken of your dreams.