Believe it or not, this level of crunch and cragginess is achievable at home!
This fried chicken's rugged and scraggy crust is inspired by Popeyes, but the caramelized-honey drizzle and a dusting of chili spice make it unique.
. That's because the rate at which an oil breaks down is a function of both temperature and time, meaning that oils with a high smoke point, such as peanut or safflower, will hold up best in the long term. For example, with proper heat regulation and a
clip-on thermometer, I can fry up four whole chickens in the same oil before I need to replace it with a new bottle. So, while oils like canola or virgin coconut may seem suitable to my low-heat technique, over time they can struggle to drive moisture out of the crust, and start to impart burnt and funky flavors.
I start with oil preheated to 325°F (163°C), but once the chicken is added to the skillet, the oil temperature will drop. Instead of cranking the heat to compensate, I allow the oil temperature to slowly come back up to 325°F. This slow and low fry gives the crust enough time to drive off excess moisture, preventing the gap you often find in breaded foods; it also results in tender and juicy meat that almost braises inside the crust. headtopics.com
With smaller birds and this cooking method, I’ve found that by the time the crust is dark golden brown, the meat is always cooked through. Still, if you prefer to check the internal temperature, the dark meat should hit 175°F (79°C), while the breasts will be done at 155°F (68°C). Taking the dark meat to a slightly higher temperature ensures that all the collagen and connective tissue has time to break down, becoming rich and unctuous.
After each piece has fried, I transfer it to a paper towel–lined tray to briefly drain any excess oil, and I season it with kosher salt right away. I then transfer it to a, which allows some airflow around each piece of chicken, preventing the bottom from steaming and growing greasy while it sits in a pool of oil.
Fancify Your Fowl: Toasted Honey and SpiceI’ve always loved honey on chicken, but I like to add some extra depth and character by deeply toasting the honey and adding butter—essentially making a honey caramel. I start by adding honey to a bigger pot than you’d expect, so that it can accommodate the foaming to follow. I use a mildly flavored clover honey and caramelize it until it's a nutty brown color, with the aroma of burnt sugar. Off the heat, I pour in a splash of water to add back the moisture lost, so it remains the supple, natural texture of honey instead of a chewy toffee. Finally, I melt in some butter for a creamy and sticky drizzle.
As I said above, I keep the seasoning in the chicken relatively neutral, with just a few spices in the brine and only salt in the dredge, and instead sprinkle on a punchy spice dust at the end. By frying at a low temperature in cast iron, the chicken develops extra-toasty mottled spots where the crust has rested on the pan; this creates intense roasted flavors, but it would burn any spices if they were present during frying. Adding a spice dust at the end lets me have the best of both worlds, while giving guests the option of leaving it off entirely if they like their chicken on the mild side. headtopics.com
This spice dust takes inspiration from my favorite condiment,chili crisp(which would also be great on this chicken). I toast and grind dried chilies, along with cumin, cinnamon, and additional spices, into a fine powder and add a touch of dried porcini mushroom powder for bonus umami punch. You can customize the spice blend however you like, opting for more traditional Cajun herbs and spices, or getting really crazy with a spiced
cheese powderfor a Dorito-style dust. It’s your fried chicken, and I don’t judge. As long as the seasoning is ground finely, it will adhere to every nook and cranny, even without any sticky assistance. I like to sprinkle the chicken liberally with dust after drizzling with the toasted honey, with extra on the side so I can eat my fried chicken Fun Dip–style.Read more: Serious Eats »
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