Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fried Chicken

I met someone the other day who told me that he liked the fried chicken at Mr. Crunchy at Ancha de San Antonio #47. Perhaps this is the best fried chicken in SMA right now but it really isn't the fried chicken I got use to. You know, the kind that tastes like your grandmother just made it, you crave it on end and then you're addicted but wish you would stop making it every week because it's not the healthiest thing in the world to eat ...but it's so darn good. That kind of chicken.

After giving Mr. Crunchy's a try, I decided to relive the best fried chicken moments I've had over the past few years. I often remember the smells associated with a particular photo shoot so I'm hungry just looking at the photos.

Buen Apetito!

Gus's Fried Chicken - Memphis

Traveling down to the Memphis World Championship BBQ Cookoff, I thoroughly expected to overload of BBQ. I did but I also had the best fried chicken I’ve ever had at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken - Crispy and not the least bit greasy.

The lines were really long but well worth the wait. 

Big Jones - Chicago

If you’re craving your grandmother’s fried chicken like I was, Big Jones, a magnificent Southern restaurant in The Andersonville neighborhood in Chicago is the place to head.

Big Jones serves what they call A SOULFUL FRIED CHICKEN DINNER and soulful it is because it changed how I think about cooking chicken. I will never fry it again without using leaf lard and ham. So here were the rounds and all for $16 at lunch:

Biscuits and Cornbread… Of course the essentials for any Southern meal.

Fried Chicken... Cooked according to Edna Lewis's recipe in fresh leaf lard with butter and a ham hock, in a cast iron kettle. Leaf fat, the football-size cape of dry, crumbly fat that surrounds the pig's kidney, contains the fewest impurities and thus makes the best lard for baking and frying.

Mashed Potatoes and Gumbo Gravy...The pork gravy on the mashed potatoes was simply the best gravy I’ve ever had. 

Eischen's - Oklahoma City

Oklahoma’s oldest bar in Okarche, OK serves up over 24,000 pieces of chicken each week. I find this statistic astonishing.

The part of the recipe I’m sure of? The chicken is cooked at 330 degrees for 15 minutes and is made by applying a coating mixture of wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, cornmeal, salt, and paprika.

The piece of the recipe I don’t know? The “other” spices that are added to the mix. No measurements were given to uphold its classified status.

Eischen's does everything textbook down to the square of butcher paper it’s served on.

On just my second tasting, I’m giving Eischen’s the title of BEST Fried Chicken anywhere so the challenge is on.

My House

I haven't found a really great fried chicken restaurant in San Miguel so I broke down and made my own. As we all know, sometimes when you have the craving and can't buy it out, cooking in is your best option.

Martha Lou’s Kitchen Fried Chicken is the best recipe I've found yet.

Peanut oil, for frying
4 cups flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 3–4 lb. whole chickens, cut into quarters
2 cups milk
2 eggs

Pour oil into an 8-qt. Dutch oven to a depth of 3″, and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325°.

Place flour in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Season chicken all over with salt and pepper.

Whisk milk and eggs in a large bowl and, working in batches, dip chicken quarters in milk mixture, then dredge in flour, shaking off excess.

Place in oil and fry, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and dark brown, 15 minutes for white meat, 20 minutes for dark meat.

Drain on paper towels and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.