I've made fried chicken all sorts of ways (as previously seen on this site). I didn't really learn anything new in terms of preparing the chicken per se, but I liked having the chance to really walk through the steps and understand why I've been making fried chicken the way I have for years. However, I did learn more about pan gravy since a good gravy takes some practice. Here are some notes on pan frying:
Pan fried poultry should be juicy. Its coating or batter should be crispy, golden brown, not excessively oily and free from any breaks that allow fat to penetrate. Both the poultry and the coating should be well seasoned.
Selecting poultry to pan-fryThe most common pan fried poultry is fried chicken. Young tender birds cut into small pieces produce the best results. Other cuts commonly pan-fried are boneless portions such as chicken breasts and turkey scallops.
Seasoning poultry to be pan-friedPan fried poultry is usually floured, breaded or battered before cooking. Typically, the seasonings are added to teh flour, breading or batter before the poultry is coated. Seasonings can be a blend of any number of dried herbs and spices. But often only salt and pepper are required because the poultry will be served with a sauce or other accompaniments for additional flavors.
Cooking TemperaturesThe fat should always be hot before the poultry is added. The temperature at which it is cooked is determined by the length of time required to cook it thoroughly. Pan-frying generally requires slightly lower temperatures to produce good color in a relatively short time. Thicker items and those containing bones require lower cooking temperatures and longer cooking times.
Determining DonenessEven the largest pan-fried items may be too small to be accurately tested with an instant read thermometer, and using teh touch method can be difficult and dangerous because of the amount of fat used in pan-frying. So timing and experience are teh best tools to determine doneness. Thin scallops cook very quickly, so it is relatively easy to judge their doneness. On the other hand, friend chicken can take as long as 30-45 minutes to cook, requiring skill and experience to determine doneness.
Accompaniments to Pan-Fried PoultryBecause pan-frying does not produce fond or drippings that can be used to make a sauce, pan-fried poultry is usually served with lemon wedges, a vegetable garnish or a separately made sauce. Fried chicken is an exception; it is sometimes served with a country gravy made by degreasing the pan, making a roux with a portion of the fat and adding milk or stock and seasonings.
Procedure for Pan-Frying Poultry
- Heat enough fat in a heavy sauté pan to cover the item to be cooked on-fourth to halfway up its side. The fat should be approximately 325 degrees.
- Add the floured, breaded or battered item to the hot fat, being careful no to splash. The fat must be hot enough to sizle and bubble when the item is added.
- Turn the item when the first side is the proper color; it should be half cooked at this point. Larger items may need to be turned more than once to brown them properly on all sides.
- Remove the browned poultry from the pan and drain it on absorbent paper.
Pan Fried Chicken & Gravy
2 frying chickens (roughly 2 lbs each), with each chicken cut into 8 pieces
salt & pepper to taste
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour, divided
1 cup buttermilk
frying oil, as needed
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cups chicken stock
freshly chopped parsley for garnish