Wish I was able to give y’all the complete recipe. Sadly, as with most of my dishes, I just tend to toss in what sounds good at the moment. I’ll do my best. Fried chicken is usually something that you must figure out on your own once you know the basics.
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- 2-3 tablespoons dill pickle juice (You heard me…PICKLE JUICE) I use this, but you can only get it in Texas.
- 2-3 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups milk (You can use buttermilk if you want. I’ve heard it makes fluffier crust. I just use whole milk.)
- Spices (Your choice here. If you want to add kick, use a few shakes of red pepper flakes.)
- 1 large onion cut into slices. I usually do them thick, but the time I went for super thin. Kind of like French’s fried onions.
- Canola or other light vegetable oil. Olive oil works, but imparts more taste than I want. Plus, it tends to fry hotter and thicken up too fast.
Place your chicken breasts in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag (or Tupperware container). Put in half your spices and all of the pickle juice. Shake it all up real good and seal. Place in the fridge for at least 30-45 minutes. You want to give that pickle juice time to soak in. Here’s a little background on why I chose pickle juice: Chik-fil-a brines their chicken in pickle juice overnight. Now, I don’t care much for Chik-fil-a, but I do love pickles. Therefore, instead of soaking for 12 hours, I opted for a typical marinade timeline.
While that’s marinating, mix up the dry part of your dredge: flour and the rest of your spices to taste. Here’s where I typically add in the kicker spices – those with the most flavor punch.
After your chicken is marinated, take each piece out of the bag and place in a large casserole dish. Needs to be large enough so that each piece has its own space. Coat each breast with your flour dredge mixture until very well coated on both sides. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, there’s no way around it. I usually gently mash each breast a bit to make sure everybody is getting along well. Cover it up tight with a lid or plastic wrap and place back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
After your dredged chicken has been in the fridge for 30 minutes, add to your remaining flour mixture if you think you need more. Flour is cheap so go for it. The more the merrier.
Start preheating your oven and a cookie sheet to about 250 degrees. You want a cookie sheet with either a rack on it or crinkled up aluminum foil. Fried chicken sticks! If you’re not careful, your bottom breaded layer will come right off. No one likes that. Also, the rack and/or tin foil make sure the juices from the chicken have somewhere else to go than back up into your breading.
In a separate bowl, add your milk and eggs. Whisk those bitches up until they’re begging for mercy. I usually add some black pepper in with my milk. Trust me. Mmmm pepper.
Heat your oil in a large skillet (cast iron or otherwise) I use a huge non-stick myself. You want at least 1-1/2 to 2 inches of oil, don’t be shy. Just not so much that your entire breast is covered. This is skillet frying…NOT deep frying. You know the oil is just right when a little flour tossed in fries right up.
Take one chicken breast and dip it in your wet dredge. Then through your dry dredge. You’ll be frying one piece at a time, unless you’ve got two smaller breasts. The more room, the more even your fry will be. I’ll usually turn a few times during cooking. Be gentle and use tongs. You don’t want to puncture the outside. That would be bad. You lose all the juices that way. A little tip on how to know when you’re done…tap the crust. It should be firm. I like it when mine you can actually HEAR the tap. Tink tink tink. You’re outta here!
As each piece is done, put it in the oven. Check with a meat thermometer if you’re not sure. I like mine at about 125-130 degrees. 140 is alright as well. If you happen to go over, it means much less time in the oven to crisp up, but the flavor will still be damn awesome.
Now, time for your onions! Separate all your rings and dredge. Wet/dry/wet/dry. I use the same flour and milk I used for the chicken. That way the flavors get alone well. You can shake on some extra seasoning once they’re fried. Some people like their rings spicy. Go for it if you want.
If you’ve done it right, your rings should be cooked about 10 minutes before your chicken in the oven is ready. That’s what you want. If you manage to cook the rings right, they will be blonde in color, not brown. Drain those puppies for a few minutes on a plate with paper towels and then toss them in the oven on top of or beside your chicken. I put mine on top so they would make love to the chicken and become as one. Of course I saved some for gnawing on while the rest of the stuff is cooking.
Once your chicken reaches about 160 degrees, it’s time to eat!
Serve with whatever you want. This time I chose potatoes, a creamy pepper gravy (Southern-style) and some beans.
And there you have it! My first few times frying anything were all trial and error. I suspect everyone goes through that. These days, I fry like a pro. I guess that’s because The Man is always asking me to.