When prepared and cooked properly, fried chicken may be one of the world’s most delicious foods. Regardless of where you live, variations on this classic dish can almost always be found — whether it’s Korean fried chicken (which has a very light and crunchy batter), Nashville hot chicken (tossed in a cayenne and oil-based sauce), or simply the Southern standard buttermilk fried chicken that many of us are accustomed to.
Although fried chicken is a humble dish, cooking it at home can be a tough task to take on, and it seems that restaurants always do a better job. While everyone has their own approach to cooking this coveted dish, there are a couple of universal characteristics that separate average fried chicken from the great stuff: A crispy-salty exterior and a juicy, well seasoned interior.
The difficult part of frying chicken, as opposed to cooking it other ways, is achieving a crunchy coating in the same time that it takes for the poultry to evenly cook through. Usually what ends up happening is that the chicken ends up being overcooked and dry, or even worse, still raw by the time the batter becomes golden brown. So how do you achieve perfect, restaurant-quality fried chicken at home every time?
The secret is double-frying the chicken… yes, frying it twice. By cooking the poultry initially in moderately controlled oil, 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, you make sure to fully cook the chicken without burning the outside coating. The next step is to rest the chicken on a wire rack for at least an hour, or even refrigerate overnight, allowing the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. For the second fry, increase the same oil to 400 degrees and quickly fry the chicken for about a minute or two just before eating, immediately seasoning with salt once removed from the fryer.
Not only does this trick leave you with super-crunchy yet tender fried chicken perfect for any occasion, it allows you to cook this wonderful dish ahead of time, so all you have to do is reheat before serving. This frying technique works with just about any recipe. If you’re looking for a comprehensive step-by-step guide to making this tasty dish at home from brining to breading, make sure to check out how to make the most perfect fried chicken ever.