Fried chicken is a fickle beast. When the craving hits, it’s like I must have it – like, immediately. Visions of golden-fried, crispy, salty deliciousness accompanied by sweet southern slaw and warm buttermilk biscuits can put my mind into a complete tizzy. Yet, almost inevitably, that moment when I’d finally sink my teeth into a piece of this much-anticipated deliciousness would be anticlimactic. Even when the crispy outside was perfect, the inside was dry. Or sometimes the inside would be juicy but the skin would be flaccid and fatty. And most of the time, even when all other things were right, the chicken itself would just be weird. I’d find myself navigating around bones and pieces of fat.
The basics of perfect fried chicken are very simple, right? The skin should be crispy and flavorful and the meat should be moist and juicy. So why is it so hard to get it right?
Don’t get me wrong, there are some chicken spots that get it right, and they are the ones I go back to again and again. One place comes to mind, which wasn’t a chicken place at all, but more of an upscale bistro in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia that is not even known for its chicken. This spot will always come to mind because it was – and still is – the best fried chicken I’ve ever had, and the inspiration for this at-home recipe for Best-Ever Fried Chicken.
When I finally found the perfect, Best-Ever Fried Chicken, I never dreamed that it would be – gasp – a boneless, skinless breast! The boneless, skinless breast is like the antithesis of what I would ever have thought to use for a fried chicken recipe. But it was literally magical what this restaurant did with the most boring part of the chicken. And great news for me, because half of my household refuses to eat anything with bones or dark meat.
In my extensive search to find the method in which to duplicate my new favorite fried chicken, I came across hundreds of recipes and opinions. Almost every celebrity chef has his or her version, along with every major magazine – many times over. I learned that making fried chicken at home would not only be a long and messy process, but I may even need some special equipment. First, I would have to brine my chicken for hours or even overnight. Then, I’d have to batter and deep fry it – sometimes twice. I’d have to fuss with lots of chicken parts and mixtures.
You’re not going to have to do any of that here. It’s going to come together pretty quickly and it’s going to be delicious – I promise! No skin, no bones, no brine – and you won’t miss any of it for a second. You will be a boss in the kitchen and your family will be in awe of you. (Too much?)
In terms of special equipment – if you own a deep fryer, by all means, fire it up. I highly recommend this method. It will actually be less cleanup in the long run. If not, it’s completely fine. All you need is a large, 3-4 inch deep pan (cast iron is best). The pan has to be deep enough for the chicken to float in the oil. You’ll fry it until its golden brown and drain it on wire racks. In total, you will use two bowls and one pan. Not too bad, right?
I am so excited for you to make my favorite, Best-Ever Fried Chicken. Let me know how it goes. Enjoy!
- 4 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breast
- 1 quart vegetable oil
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 4 egg whites, beaten
- 4 Tbsp. vodka
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 5 cups flour
- 5 Tbsp. cornstarch
Rinse chicken breasts with water and pat dry with paper towels. Set a wire rack over a large baking sheet and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, egg whites, vodka, salt, paprika, hot sauce and pepper. Whisk in the baking powder and baking soda.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch. Working piece by piece, dredge chicken in flour, then buttermilk mixture, then back in flour. Set each piece on the wire rack.
Fill deep fryer with oil and heat to 350 degrees. Alternately, heat 1 inch of oil in a large, deep pan over medium heat (continue to add more oil as it gets absorbed during the frying process). Deep fry for 7 minutes. Pan fry for 6-8 minutes on each side, until skin is golden and crispy. Drain the chicken on wire rack.