Today’s guest post is brought to us by fellow STL blogger Jamey Stegmaier. Jamey is friends with the creators of STARCH, and recently tried a fried chicken recipe from Bon Appetite Magazine, we asked Jamey to write a guest post about his experience.
I’m going to start off by ruining my credibility: Every few months, I get a craving for Popeye’s chicken. I can’t help it. It’s in my southern bones (specifically, my jawbone and stomach bone). It’s not pretty when it happens, but I enjoy every minute of it. I don’t often cook fried chicken, but when I noticed the claim in this month’s Bon Appetite that they were offering the “last fried chicken recipe you’ll ever need,” I jumped at the chance to give it a try. I’m not sure what the rules are about sharing copyrighted recipes, so I’ll share for you the recipe that I used, from memory, so I’m sure it’s slightly different from Bon Appetite’s.
- Overspice the chicken 24 hours in advance. Or, if you’re me, do it 10 minutes before you start to cook because you act completely on your cravings, and you didn’t know yesterday that you’d be craving fried chicken today. Use kosher salt, black and white pepper, papricka, and garlic powder. And yes, overspice the chicken. Some of the spices will come off when you dip it, so this is your chance to lock in some flavor. I used organic chicken strips that came from chickens that were good friends when they were alive. Friendship = flavor.
- Heat peanut oil to exactly 350 degrees. Or, if you’re me, go to grocery store and buy peanut oil because you have every kind of oil except the sweat of peanuts. After scoffing at the price of peanut oil, buy the smallest container and pour some of it into a deep frying pan when you get home. I don’t know how to get the oil to exactly 350 degrees, so I carefully chose Level 6 on my stovetop dial.
- Mix ingredients. No snarky commentary here—this was pretty straightforward. Put an egg and buttermilk (I don’t know what buttermilk is, but it’s spectacular. I can only presume it’s what happens when a stick of butter impregnates a dairy cow) in one bowl and flour and cornstarch in another. Cornstarch, you say? I know, right? Maybe this is a secret chef thing that everyone has been keeping from me, but cornstarch is amazing. It prevents the fried batter from gumming up too much, and yet it provides a light, crispy shell around the chicken. Perfect.
- Dip the chicken in the liquid batter, then the dry batter, then lower into the frying pan. The recipe says not to double dip. I disagree. Don’t smother the chicken in flour, but give it more than a cursory dip.
- Cook the chicken until it’s fried. The recipe was very specific, saying one should “turn chicken every 2 minutes with twice-baked mahogany cooking chopsticks, never looking away from the pan to check into “My Kitchen” on Foursquare on your iPhone, turning no more than 4 times and no less than 3 times.” But let’s be honest: Just cook the chicken until it’s fried. You know what fried looks like.
- Cool chicken on cooling rack. This was brilliant. I’ve always cooled chicken on plates lined with paper towels to soak up the grease, but they end up soggy on the bottom. If you put them on a cooking rack, sure, it’s tougher to wash, but it’s totally worth it. The grease drips off and you end up with chicken that is just as crispy as when you pulled it from the pan.
- Eat all of the chicken in one sitting. You think I’m kidding. But here’s the thing: Once you put your leftover chicken in the fridge, it’ll never be the same. I tried the vaunted microwave/toaster oven combo the next day, all to no avail. So you basically have two options: Eat all the chicken in one sitting, or invite people over to partake in the spoils. I attempted the first option because I’m like a wild animal when it comes to fried chicken. I will bite you.
- Sauce? I underspiced my chicken, so I added flavor by making a very easy sauce out of ketchup and siracha. It kind of made the whole production taste like Captain D’s fried fish and cocktail sauce, but I wasn’t complaining.
So there you have it: The only fried chicken recipe you’ll ever need (apparently). If you have any tips for enhancing the recipe, let me know. Until then, you can find me in the Popeye’s Drive-Thru deciding between spicy or original.