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Batter-Fried Chicken

Using equal parts cornstarch and flour in the batter ensures a crisp crust on the fried chicken. And baking powder adds lift and lightness without doughiness. We flavor our fried chicken batter with black pepper, paprika, and cayenne for simple but unambiguous flavor. We replaced the milk in the batter with plain old water. (When wet batter hits hot frying oil, the moisture in the batter vaporizes, leaving behind the solids that adhere to the chicken. With milk, the sugars in the milk solids browned too fast and produced a soft crust.) As far as technique, deep-frying easily beats out shallow-frying for this fried chicken. With shallow-frying, the batter always burns on the bottom.–The Editors of Cook’s Country

LC Pepper To Taste Note

With its crisp, nubbly crust and tender, insanely moist meat, this fried chicken is fried perfection. Finger lickin’ good, actually. The only thing we’d consider changing? The amount of black pepper. It’s intentionally heavy-handed in this recipe, and that’s not a bad thing. Just essential for you to know going in that you have the right to add pepper to taste.

Batter-Fried Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • For the brined chicken
  • 1 quart (4 cups) cold water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (halve each breast crosswise and separate leg quarters into thighs and drumsticks)
  • For the fried chicken
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 to 5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 3/4 cups cold water
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) peanut or vegetable oil, for frying

Directions

  • Make the brine
  • 1. Whisk the water, salt, and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the chicken and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Make the fried chicken batter
  • 2. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, baking powder, salt, and water in a large bowl until smooth. Cover and refrigerate the batter while the chicken is brining.
  • Fry the chicken
  • 3. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or other deep-sided pot over medium-high heat till it reaches 350°F (176°C). Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • 4. Pour off and discard the brine from the chicken. Pat the chicken pieces completely dry with paper towels. Whisk the batter to recombine. (If the batter seems too thick, add a little cold water, no more than 1 tablespoon at a time, until the batter becomes the consistency of pancake batter.) Place half the chicken pieces in the batter and turn to coat. Remove the chicken from the batter, allowing any excess to drip back into the bowl, and carefully transfer it to the oil. Fry the chicken, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain the oil temperature between 300°F and 325°F (149°C and 163°C). Cook the fried chicken until deep golden brown and the white meat registers 160°F/71°C (175°F/79°C for dark meat), 12 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Place the fried chicken on the wire rack to drain. Bring the oil back to 350°F (176°C) and repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve the fried chicken hot, warm, at room temperature, even cold if there are any leftovers (hah!).
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