No buttermilk, no problem. No deep fryer, no worries. This fried chicken comes out flavorful and perfectly crisp without either of those trappings. First the chicken goes for a quick swim in egg whites seasoned with hot sauce, then takes a dunk in a blend of flour and cornstarch. The most important step is the combination of deep-frying and steaming in a tight skillet. Generally, when you want meat or poultry to brown up in a pan, you need to spread the meat out so that there is room for steam to escape and browning to occur. For this recipe, you want the chicken to fit tightly in the pan so that it both browns from the hot oil, and steams as a result of the cramped quarters and tight lid. The result will be crispy, juicy chicken, no paper hat or bucket needed.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 4 ServingsServings
For the soak:
- 1/2 cup egg whites (about 2 eggs)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce, depending on your taste
- 1 31/2 to 4 pound chicken, cut into eights and each breast cut in half
For the dunk:
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet or hot Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- vegetable shortening, peanut or corn oil
For the soak whisk together the egg whites, salt, and hot sauce and pour the mixture into a resealable plastic bag. Toss the chicken pieces in the bag and seal. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours. While the chicken marinates prepare the breading by combining all the dunk ingredients in a shallow bowl.
When ready to fry, remove the chicken from the fridge and add ½-inch of oil to a heavy bottomed or cast iron skillet, which has a cover and can hold the chicken pieces snugly. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. If you do not have a cooking thermometer, do what Chinese cooks have done for centuries, take a wooden chopstick (or stem of a wooden spoon) and press down into the oil. If the oil bubbles up around the wood, it is ready.
Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and then place the chicken in the pan skin side down and put the dark meat pieces in your pan’s hot spot, as they take longer to cook and will benefit from that advantage. Cover the pan and cook, maintaining the heat at 350 degrees, about 12 to15 minutes, or until the skin is a golden brown. Turn the chicken over, cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Turn one more time so the skin side has a chance to crisp up, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Drain on a baking rack set over a pan, if you place them on paper towels or even in a paper bag, they will lose some of their crispy goodness. If you must keep the chicken warm, place that pan in the oven on low until ready to serve.
While I don’t have a chemistry degree, I do think that the proteins in the whites help to tenderize the chicken a little just as the buttermilk does in southern fried chicken recipes. Additionally, the egg whites are the glue that holds the flour mixture in place. Mr. Wizard would be proud. For the egg whites you can certainly crack a few eggs or buy egg whites in a container. Remember, once opened, you need to use that container within a week.
Courtesy of The Kosher Carnivore, St. Martin’s Press, fall 2011