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Pan fried chicken, something aint right here.

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I've been on a home cooking kick for a while, but the only frying I have done is fish and its always come out perfect.

I decided to try pan fried chicken for the first time and here is what I did.

I soaked the chicken 14 hours in buttermilk (thighs and legs)
I drained and applied a spice rub.
Coated them in all purpose flour, shaking off the excess.
Placed them in a 10" skillet at about 350 degrees in crisco.
Cooked each side for about 10 minutes (as per the recipe).

The good - Chicken cooked well.
The bad - almost but not QUITE burned breading, the breading turned an ugly very dark brown, and did so long before the 10 minute mark.

It wasn't horrible but my rule of thumb for home cooking is that if its not better than the average restaurant, I didn't do a good job, and I'd have rather have had a chains fried chicken than this stuff so obviously I did something wrong.

I did my best to check the oil temperature and I don't THINK I made it past the smoke point but any advice is welcome.
post #2 of 29
You might be seeing and tasting overcooked/scorched spices from the rub. They don't have much protection from the hot oil with just a bit of flour added.
post #3 of 29
My grandmother, and my Dad always used a 2 pan method. One cast iron skillet was set at a pretty high temp. to set the crust and start the browning process. When this stage was done it was moved to a cast iron skillet set over a much lower heat so that the chicken had a chance to cook through and the crust finished browning slowly.
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post #4 of 29

Prevent the burning....

It is true that many times, the spices add not just flavor but also COLOR to the chicken. So depending on what spices you are using, that may be part of the problem. If there was paprika in your rub, then the chicken color probably turned out to be something of an ugly ugly rust color. I tried a good eats recipe with paprika...never again!

But here are two different ways to get chicken that is both thoroughly cooked and the right color.

PROCESS #1: Cover Method

get your oil to the desired temperature. place the desired amount of pieces in the pan. When the first side gets to the color you like, then flip the chicken. Cover the pan with a good fitting lid AND lower the temperature on your stove. Depending on the amount of chicken (and which cuts you use) I find that a good 15-30 minutes covered will give you thoroughly cooked chicken each time. The color should be good as well--but again, the spices will burn if you use a lot of them.

PROCESS #2: FINISHING OVEN METHOD (preferred method)

I have become a firm believe in this method...crispy chicken every time and the perfect color too! This may even work with the spice rub (but don't quote me on that)

OK...first get your oil to the desired temp. AND preheat your oven to 325-350F. Next, put your chicken into the pan and cook them until you get the desired color is reached (you do not need to worry about doneness...just worry about the color that you want).

Next, when both sides of the chicken have the color that you want, remove them from the pan immediately and place them on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil (or on a cooling rack that is on a cookie sheet if you prefer). When all the pieces have the right color and are on the cookie sheet, place them in the oven.

From this point on, you can pretty much forget about the chicken and concentrate on the rest of your side dishes AND you will free up your burners!

The great part is, this oven method is forgiving. I have left chicken in the oven for over 45 minutes while finishing my sides and gravies...and the chicken still came out the right color and was still extremely moist.

I have also removed the chicken from the oven in as little as 25 minutes...and even that little amount of time was enough to cook the pieces thoroughly AND bring them up to the recommended done temperature (about 165-170F).

And don't worry...this is not considered a baked chicken...it is still a fried bird. The only thing the oven does is finish the pieces by penetrating heat deeper than the frying oil to "finish" thoroughly cooking the pieces without scorching the skin and does not dry out the flesh. The bird is still considered fried chicken.

I don't know if or how the extended time in the oven will affect the color or flavor if you use a thick rub and/or buttermilk...but as far as golden crispy skin...the oven method is a wonder!
post #5 of 29
I'm with Stewey -

I have done fried chicken in a huge cast iron fry pan with success - takes a long time, a lot of oil, and doing it consistently I guess takes more practice than I ever put into it.

now I do the fry for color & crisp; finish in the oven. used egg wash, buttermilk soak, flour, corn meal, corn flakes, prolly most seasonings ever though of <g> and it all seems to work well.

a big advantage of the oven finish technique is you can prep a lot of chicken and have it all hot&ready to serve at the same time. I've cut up and done 3 whole chickens "as one oven batch." I do recommend 'storing' and ovening on a wire rack to avoid any soggy spots.
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
Yea I had paprika in it and the rub was from good eats. I love the show for showing the science behind cooking, but sometimes I find the recipes need tweaking too. I'm not sure if that was 100% of the problem, I do think it was slightly burned, so thanks to everyone with suggestions, I think I'll try the oven method next time and see if that improves. While I have your attention, does anyone have a spice rub they would recommend? The other issue with the good eats rub was that it was amazingly tasteless, and I really coated it well.
post #7 of 29
was that where AB went on the smoked paprika kick?
tried it - smoked flavor did not fly well here....

I prefer spices in the coating mix vs. the rub method.
post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thats normally how I do my fish (chipotle and salt in the flour), but AB recommended against it so I decided to try his way. Not a good outcome.
I'm not sure if it should make that much of a difference really.
post #9 of 29
I've encountered the color issue too with chicken when using cayenne/chioptle powders in the breading, the end result being a dark red, almost burnt looking color.

Is there any way to get around that?
post #10 of 29
Saw a Donahue show years ago with a recipe detective. The Colonel gave her a hint for her to discover his KFC Original Recipe. Told her to go to the grocery store and look for one product with all his eleven herbs and spices. She found it, Good Season's Italian Dressing mix. She mixed it with the flour and added a little powdered Campbell's Tomato Soup for color. I use it once in a while.
post #11 of 29
Doc,

I'm not a huge AB fan, but I actually did see that show. It's worth finding the video if you can, because his chicken came out the same way -- too dark. He tried to make a virtue out of it, talking about how good the dark parts tasted and so on. I really can't disagree with him in terms of how his chicken tasted, because I never got to taste it. Something wrong with my cable subscription I guess.

The problem wasn't really with your paprika -- if you examine the over-browned parts, you'll see that (a) it was the crust, which wasn't actually seasoned itself; and (b) was where the chicken made contact with the pan. The problem was the pan surface temperature, which was too hot. The breading which touched the pan -- cooked by "contact conduction" was overcooked -- while the chicken -- cooked by "immersion contact conduction -- was on the money.

I suspect another part of the problem was the "New, 0 Transfat" Crisco which does not behave the way old Crisco did.

The solutions to the temperature problem are to either cook at a lower temperature altogether, or to start at a higher temperature, then lower it as soon as the crust nears the desired color. Either method is good.

For the low temp method, just cook at a steady 325-335, and don't worry about what Alton said about the size of the chicken, the temperature, and the skin and meat all coming together at the same time. He's all good intentions, but sometimes can get a little dogmatic about his own methods and calculations being the "right" or "best" ones. There are no "right" ones. Only ones which work -- and there are usually quite a few of those.

As for the high temp/low temp method : Preheat the oil at medium high, when it's hot add the chicken skin side down. When the first side colors to just a little less than the desired color (about 6 minutes, probably), turn it over and reduce the heat to medium low -- hot enough to still bubble, and let it go. For awhile. When the desired color is reached (probably around 12 minutes, turn again and finish cooking the skin side (about four minutes).

The fried/baked method is also pretty good, but the crust won't be as crisp. FWIW, KFC "Original" is pressure-fried/baked-humid

Unfortunately, most 0 transfat vegetable shortenings (which was AB's preferred fat) can get a bit iffy at the high temp -- really flirting with the smoke point. If you smell the grease starting to burn (you'll smell it before you see smoke or darkening), back off on the heat.

If you're truly serious about great fried chicken try lard instead of vegetable shortening. If you've got something against lard, use corn or peanut oil (peanut oil's pretty distinctive though, not to mention expensive). Lard is better than Crisco than ever was; and as I said, the New Crisco is not your mother's Crisco. At least not yet.

After marinating in a brine (sometimes a buttermilk brine), I dry the chicken, rub it, dredge it in seasoned flour, dip it in seasoned buttermilk, and dredge again. Sometimes I lightly smoke the chicken before breading and frying.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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post #12 of 29
as just mentioned, there's "dark" and there's "burnt" - not exactly the same to the taste buds, but to the eyeball,,,, perhaps mebbe yes.

confirming: the dark spot are usually where the chicken piece has rested directly on the pan - which is "the hottest spot in the cooking scenario" - so you could lower the heat, as suggested, or plunk in a grate to keep the chicken off the pan - essentially a partially submerged "deep fry" technique.

or do what I do: fry it for color&crispy finish in the oven <g>

.....Told her to go to the grocery store and look for one product with all his eleven herbs and spices.

uhmmmm, the eleven thingies are "secret" - how does that work? - if I find something with exactly 11 spices/herbs does that mean it must be Harland's deal?
post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
I have it on DVR so I'll take a look tonight.

Mine was over dark all over, but I don't think paprika was the main culprit but it sure didn't help.

Yep thats what I used.

Good to know, I dont' like KFC original, too mushy.

If it makes great fried chicken, lard will be my friend. **** as a doc I'm not opposed to the Atkins diet if you do it properly. Such chicken would only be a special treat not a daily staple.


Helped quite a bit, thanks for your time.
post #14 of 29
Docsmith-

I agree with the finishing in the oven method..but for me using a cooling rack on top of the cookie rack (as someone already metioned up top) is the best way to prevent the chicken from becoming soggy, because the juices from the chicken do come out. The very first time i ever made fried chicken i didn't use a cooling rack..and the bottoms of my chicken all turned soggy from the chicken juice...:look: hope this suggestion helps!
post #15 of 29
Not to disagree with some of the other poster...BUT...my chicken does still come out very crispy when I use the oven method. but it is true, we all have our "right way" of cooking something...just use whichever works in your kitchen. But again...for me...my chick still comes out very crispy even after sitting in the oven.

But, if others' came out soggy all over their chicken pieces...I couldn't tell you why. When I don't use a cooling rack on the cookie sheet, then the part of the chicken that is resting on the cookie sheet does get a little soggy but just on that one spot...and the rest is still very crispy.

If it comes out of the oven soggy all over??? I couldn't tell you the reason.

But for mine...I don't brine my chicken or soak in buttermilk. I cut it fresh from a fryer/roaster...then dry it really REALLY well with paper towels until very tacky. Then flour dredge (I season my flour with salt), egg wash, then flour coat (I use the same seasoned flour from the dredging), then into the pan. I try to use a pretty high temp on the oil as that gives me a crispier coat...I usually start mine at about 375F....and when the chicken goes into the oil, the temperature drops to about 325-350F. Maybe the temperature offset results in the soggy chicken? who knows...but good luck!:bounce:
post #16 of 29
...my chicken does still come out very crispy

yup. I can go with that. the problem is the difficulty in defining "crispy" from poster to poster - I simply avoided the issue.

personally I do not care for KFC "extra crispy" - plain ole original suits me just peachie keen - but that's not what everyone thinks.

same with "season chicken" vs. "season coating" debate. a non-seasoned flour coating - to me - tastes like.... ummmm, crispy flour. I personally _like_ a seasoned coating. the infused chicken skin/meat can just about stand on its own - for me - not true for all humans . . . .

true for dogs and cats tho - never known a dog or cat to pass up chunks of fried chicken because the rub was wrong.
post #17 of 29
Stewy-

i meant what you said..the part of the chicken that was resting on the baking sheet is the part that came out soggy...not the entire chicken.
post #18 of 29
Let me learn here- "pressure-fried"? "Baked-humid"? What do these mean?
post #19 of 29
Doc,

Look up this cook book "The Gift of Southern Cooking" It's co-authored by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. Scott was the Chef at a place my mentor owned and I was there to do some kitchen systems consulting while in Atlanta. I learned how mostly by paying attention while doing what I was hired to but also had to and working the kitchen to get some specs written. While there and had the opportunity to learn directly from Ms. Lewis on how to pan fry chicken when she made a stop in at the restaurant one day. The Chefs staff had already explained some things but I did recieve a little one on one from her since I was standing over the rondo filled with chicken. I have to say it is the most outstanding product I've ever had. Actually all of her recipes are outstanding. If you already enjoy or would love to experience true Southern cooking it's a good book to have in the bookcase. Until I worked with them and some of the rest of the Chefs staff, I had no concept of what Southern cooking was really about and I had been in Atlanta for 9 years by then. It was almost like a cooking epiphany what they opened my eyes to.


Some places, especially around Chicago, called it Broasted Chicken. It was a deep kettle pressure fryer. I hated the one we had at one place. saw it blow it's lid one day because a line cook got careless with the screw lock.
post #20 of 29
KFC Original Recipe is fried in pressure cookers until almost done. Then placed in a humid oven (extra water injected to keep it that way) and cooked at a moderately-low temperature until finally done. Or so I understand.

BDL
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post #21 of 29
I've been told by workers it's fried totally in the pressure cookers. The oven is just holding til served.

Todd Wilbur of Top Secret recipes just pressure fries the chicken. The problem with duplicating this technique is to find a pressure cooker whose seals are rated for pressure frying. I've not seen one yet that doesn't disclaim this technique.

The workers I talked to also mentioned that they change out their pressure seals quite often.

Phil
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
When I got home I decided to check out the cooking part.

When he first turned the chicken over it didn't look too dark but later you could see the deep brown color. I wonder if thats why they did not show many close ups of the chicken after it was cooked, the color was not quite as dark as mine but very similar. Also when he took it out, based on how little the oil was bubbling I don't think it was still at 350 degrees.

I still like the good eats show, for a newbie I think its a good basic cooking 101 education. People I know are still amazed I make my own mayo or do my own butchery which I got introduced to on his show. I have caught a few times where the dish they put in was not the one that came out etc. Obviously TV cooking will be different, but it makes you wonder how many times it didn't come out right the first time or how much fudging was done. Now that the food network is big they are getting very hokey with their shows with a very unimpressive new crop with over the top production, I do hope that trend ends. I just want to learn how to cook or what to look for in good professional cooking.
post #23 of 29
........I've been told by workers it's fried totally in the pressure cookers.

in my albeit limited experience at KFC, that's my observation. I like to go when they are busybusybusy and then "I'll wait for a fresh batch" - they take it out of the cooking doohickey and right into the bucket . . . I take off the lid as soon as I get my hands on it so the residual steaming doesn't soggy the crust.

somewhere I read a thread about pressure frying at home - in fact there once was a "home model" which has been discontinued, safety issues . . .

the Broaster Chicken is a trademark - unusual arrangement - buy their equipment & mixes & follow specified procedures - but no licensing fees.
post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 
Lets see, very hot oil - Check.
High pressure - Check.
Open flame - Check.
Less than stellar home cook - Check.

Brilliant!

I can't see what the safety issue would be :lol:
post #25 of 29
This made me do some research on home pressure frying. Fagor and Magefesa both make a pressure fryer(not sure the Magefesa is still available). If you want to spend $300 or so you can buy one :crazy:
post #26 of 29
You are 100% correct with lard, been useing it for years. Another point is a lot of commercial breaded chicken is steamed first, this eliminates any pink or red inners , also when fried you can brown either shallow fat or deep to whatever color you like and it will still be cooked. They use so much seasoning that the flavor of the chicken lost thru steaming is hardly noticable. One can use whatever recipe they like as coating or breading but be rest assured, it will always be cooked.
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post #27 of 29
Good Eats is an entertaining show, and AB is an excellent cooking teacher. His approach to food has some limitations, several of which were exposed in this lesson.

AB's underlying message is that if you measure carefully, use the right equipment, and follow the steps without deviation everything will work out peachy. On the one hand, it's a good thing to give folks the confidence to try new things because they fell relatively assured that everything's going to work out fine. On the other hand, he excuses people from paying attention to what's going on with the use of timers, thermometers, scales, and gimmicky measuring cups.

As Hamlet said, "Ay, there's the rub. For in that sleep ... what dreams may come?" It's another of those "on the other hand things." It's not that easy to tell someone cooking something for the first time how to interpret the information their senses give them; they want sureness and its absence effects their confidence, making it less likely they'll try something new.

On the other hand, it's what cooking's all about. Technique is very much NOT careful measurement and timing doesn't involve the clock as much more than a reminder. Being a good cook means processing the information your ingredients and tools give you, and responding appropriately.

Please don't misunderstand me: AB is a wonderful teacher. He just can't be all things to all people any more than anyone else can.

Do me a favor and take a look at both entries of COOK FOOD GOOD and see if the flip side to AB's approach doesn't resonate for you:
http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/blogs...arts-i-ii.html

BDL
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post #28 of 29
Pete:
On an episode of EPICURIOUS I watched many years ago, there was a Viennese chef who used that very same technique (two frying pans at higher/lower temps) when cooking Vienner Schnitzel ('scuse the poor spelling).

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #29 of 29
I am by no means an expert on fried chicken, but something I noticed in this and the other concurrent thread is that nobody mentioned that the temperature of the oil might not have been what it was set for/measured at. Thermometers and thermostats can be way off . . . not often, but it happens.
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