Recipes for the Crispy, Crunchy, Comfort-Food Classic
by Rebecca Lang
Fried chicken is comfort food at its finest. Served alongside a biscuit, atop waffles, or just on its own, fried chicken is one of the most universally loved foods around. In Fried Chicken, Southern chef Rebecca Lang collects 50 of the most tantalizing, crowd-pleasing variations on the classic. There are perennial favorites like Buttermilk-Soaked, Bacon-Fried Chicken Smothered in Gravy; Tennessee Hot Chicken; kid-friendly Chicken Fingers; and even Gluten-Free Southern Fried Chicken. Also featured are internationally inspired recipes, such as Saigon Street Wings, Chinese Lollipop Wings, Mexican-Lime Fried Chicken Tacos, and Korean Fried Chicken with Gochujang Sauce. All of these recipes are impeccably tested, foolproof, and will have the whole family singing the praises of perfectly fried poultry.
Rebecca is kind enough to list out all the tools you need for the different frying techniques and other helpful chicken frying information, like how to cut your chicken into eight pieces and the safe handling of fry oil. I have never been much into frying because it can be so messy and make your house smell like oil, BUT, after my first experience with her book and how yummy this came out, I can honestly say that I will be doing this again, and again, and…
I tried to followed all of these recipes exactly as written except for the deep fried dishes. I had to compensate for my cheap fryer that has no temperature gauge and was burning the outside of the chicken. For the larger pieces like the breast, I had to finish cooking them in the oven, because the outside was going well beyond the golden brown you want to get.
Rich Fried Chicken
This recipe comes from the Deep-Fried section of the book. The richness of this dish is by using condensed milk instead of buttermilk, that is also what colors it a deeper brown than most fried chicken. It was very rich in flavor abut this was my first time using my frier so I did have setbacks and temperature control issues. I also thought it was getting overdone because it was getting so dark, for this dish that is how it’s supposed to be. If I had a meat thermometer at the time it would have kept me from removing mostly uncooked chicken until it was ready. I learned from my lesson and about halfway through I was making very tasty deep-fried chicken.
A very cool idea of using pickle juice to brine the thighs adds the dill flavor deep into the chicken and the brining makes these bad boys really juicy. She also adds pickle spices to the coating that enhances the pickle flavor even more. A great balance of tangy and salty. This recipe was pan fried and that’s like the messiest way to fry chicken I think, but I did just get a new cast-iron pan for this so that was cool.Pickle-Brined Thigh recipe
Another deep fried one that tasted great but the curry flavor did very little to distinguish this as anything but standard crispy fried chicken. The recipe has you marinade in coconut milk and put quite a bit of curry in the breading but even though it smells like a ton of curry I think it just gets lost when you fry it.
West African Fried chicken with Sauteed onions and Peppers
This bird gets it’s crisp coating from frying the chicken in oil after boiling it first. The skin itself turns into a a real crispy shell. I got to use a new spice to me called grains of paradise. It is similar to black pepper corns but with a citrus note adding a nice ethnic flavor. Add that to the scotch bonnet and paprika it reminds me of a different version of jerk seasoning. It’s served with marinated onions and red bell peppers. All-in-all a nice meal.
Fried Chicken Skins with Lime Mustard Drizzle
When I saw this recipe in the book I knew I had to try it because the favorite part of fried chicken for me is devouring the crispy skins. Sad to say that this was a terribly difficult recipe to make due to the fact that there is a tiny window of frying time where the skins come out correctly. 15 seconds to long and they are practically burnt and if you take them out 15 seconds to early they are chewier than a rubber band. The four I got right were amazing but it was just too difficult with the cheap fryer I have. The lime mustard sauce had lime zest, mustard, and honey. It was good on my winning skins but I would also use it to dip chicken nuggets in.
I really liked this book. For being a recipe book for just one thing, it has a lot of variety and helpful guides. She walks you through breaking a whole chicken down into it’s separate pieces, making your own southern flour blends, and tips for frying your bird. As I said before I had some problems with getting my oil right for the deep fryer but that’s not the books fault. All the other recipes worked out pretty well. Because most of the recipes use an entire bird they are not really useful to the single table. If you like cold fried chicken though you can be very happy with this book and all the leftovers you can eat.