Thursday, March 11

Crispy Chicken Fingers

Fried chicken happens to be one of those meals I just find silly. Not so much the end result of  "fried chicken" ('cause that part's delicious!), but more the part about all the suggested ways to go about getting the perfect fried chicken. I cook so often that when I don't, I feel like I'm missing something, so there is a lot of trial and error. 

I've never experienced an error of any kind with fried chicken though, or chicken tenders for that matter, because it's just so, so easy. Even still, there are a few tiny things I've noticed along the way when making fried chicken, that ensure a crispier outside, and moister inside. 

First things first though. Here are some myths I've never, ever found to make my fried chicken any better. In fact, they seem like a total waste:
Nope. I promise, it does nothing. Not only is white (Aka: Enriched) flour unhealthy (digests super fast in your body and provides very little to benefit your body), you can substitute whole wheat flour for a prettier color, and the taste is 100% exactly the same. Just trust me on this one!

False again. I've used buttermilk countless times, and I've never, ever noticed it helps anything. The idea is that it's thicker, so it coats the chicken better and allows more flour to attach itself on the chicken. Guess what, you can get the same coating from milk (even watery milk like skim, rice or soy), or an egg. Buttermilk sometimes even makes the chicken too soggy. You really just want enough of something liquidy to hold the wheat flour, but I've found that too much liquid can add sogginess.

Uh, sorry but no. Sure it works fine, and you can do this if that's your thing, but it's always seemed like a waste to me. And besides, I just don't have that kind of time. I'm not great at planning ahead and it never works out to where I think about it the night before. Even when it has, it's never seemed to make a difference in the final product.

Again, I'm sorry but this has never made a difference in my opinion. The idea behind this is that the skin helps the coating stay on better, and gives it a crispier exterior. That seems to make perfect sense, but I've never found it to make a difference..With that said, I'm really grossed out by chicken skin, so the idea of knawing into fried skin does nothing for me. The idea of it being crispier, does even less for me. I feel a little sick to my stomach typing about it, which means it's time to move on. If you like the skin, please do your thing, but it's not going to ruin the chicken if you don't. 

You don't. You can, and it will probably make it more moist, but I've never done it (my husband isn't into bones), and the chicken is always very moist. Leaving the bone in is supposed to make for juicer chicken. I can't debunk this, since I've never tried it,and it's probably true, but I can tell you it's not totally necessary. 

So moral to the story: It's just not that hard to make fried chicken! You can do it without all the complication, and with just a few simple ingredients. It is time consuming, but it's also very easy.

So here's way I do it that works every single time: 
Get out 1 lb of chicken. As mentioned before, I always use boneless, skinless chicken. About half the time I just buy tenders, and the other half I buy thin breasts when I can and just cut them in half lengthwise. I used chicken breasts this time.
Place the milk or scrambled eggs in one bowl, and flour in another. I used white wheat (cause it has the same benefit), but regular whole wheat works perfectly too. It's what I usually use. Dunk the chicken in the milk.

Like my 70's style tupperware? No joke, these were passed down, and I use them all the time. Just bringin' back the 70's! 
Grab some oil and pour it into a pan. I have about an inch of oil in here, and I used peanut oil because it has a super high heat tolerance, and it's cheaper. It's also pretty decent health wise.PS: Do you like my "Cool Dude" mug that's reflecting off the oil? That's my husbands, but it matches my "Hot Babe" mug. Thanks, Jamie Oliver!
Heat to 375. Now, this is a deep fryer that I bought from Walmart for about $25. It's perfect, and I love it, but you DO NOT need to use a deep fryer!! I repeat, YOU DO NOT NEED A DEEP FRYER. You can use anything else that's deep enough for oil, and heat it over medium high heat. You'll know the oil is hot enough when you drop some flour in and it sizzles a lot w/ a few bubbles in the oil. If it starts smoking, turn it down!

After coating chicken in the wet ingredient, dip it into the flour, coating well. Notice the pool of milk on the chicken? Yeah, don't do that. Make sure you let it drip for a few seconds (and be patient, unlike myself). Coat both sides, and put right in the oil. 
You can also coat several pieces and put them aside on a plate to cook all at once, but it seems to flatten out the batter, making for less crisp. I can tell you right now, I'm being too picky and over complicating this step. Just dunk and cook.
See those sizzles? See the bubbles? You don't? That's because there were so many it blurred the focus. But they are there, and this is a good thing.
Because when you pull them out, after about 3-5 minutes (or until a nice brown color), they look like this. I didn't think to take a picture of the juicy inside until now. That's the thing about having a blog, you don't start talking, until after pictures are taken. Oh well, just a great excuse to make more!
These were some of the ones I let sit on the plate. A little more flat, but still crispy on the outside, and moist on the inside. 
And if you want to be really bad, which I did, you'll fry up some of these too! 
I usually make my own from scratch... as seen in the picture above, but I was lazy and bought some prepackaged ones and used the oil to fry them. They weren't as good in my
opinion, but they did the job.  
And then we dipped them in this homemade ranch dressing, but that won't be posted until later today. ;)

Here's the lowdown, yo.

(Feeds 3-4 Starving people) 
* 1 LB Chicken (boneless, skinless please)
* Bowl or milk OR 2-3 eggs, beaten
* Bowl of Whole wheat flour
* Oil for frying (peanut works best in my opinion)

Heat at least 1/2 inch of oil to 375 or over medium-high heat.
Dip chicken in milk and then flour, coating evenly. If it doesn't look very coated, you may do dip them in each again. Either place coated chicken on a plate, or cook each piece as you go. Cooking as you go works best, but you need to watch it so it doesn't burn, as each piece will be cooking at different times. Let cook in oil for about 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. If you're worried about dying from salmonella, you can cut into a piece and make sure it's not pink. Pink chicken = no bueno. Serve w/ homemade ranch, ketchup, or my even steak sauce! 


Cool Lassi(e) said...

Stumbled here from Easy Crafts. Good to know a little about you. You have some serious-eats posts here! Love that chicken crisps. Love your approach of eating "real" foods and applaud you for that.
Drop by when you have time. I make some decent posts too. :)

Hannah Joy Davis said...

Yum! I'm making this tonight! Thank you for sharing!

Gulmohar said...

Fabulous chicken fingers and perfect french fries to go with it..You have an interesting space here :-) Happy Blogging and a nice week end !!

Piper said...

Cassie ~ Thank you! No joke about the "real foods" comment. I almost had a panic attack when I realized I was out of butter one morning and wouldn't have a chance to stop by the store on the way home. I actually caught myself saying, "What will I cook tonight without butter??" That's pathetic. LOL

Hannah ~ Thanks for visiting :)

Piper said...

Gulmohar ~ That's for stopping by and for the kind words!

shahana said...

I was searching for a gud crispy chicken fingers and now i got it.Thnaks a lot for sharing the recipe.You got a wonderful space here with alot of deicious dishes.Im following you dear

Piper said...

Thank you Shahana for the sweet words! Do you have a blog? I need to check it out!

Anonymous said...

Thank you soooo much for the step by step tutorial! I've never made fried chicken before (only shake and bake kind) and have been scared because it always seemed too labor intensive and time consuming but you make it look so easy!

I will definitely have to give this a try. Oh and I remember that dinner fail....poor cheesy pancakes :(

Cool Lassi(e) said...

I would marry you too if I wasn't happily married with a kid. ;). Maybe in the next lifetime where you can make those crispy chicken fingers for me? Keep up the good work. Happy weekend or whats remaining of it.

Piper said...

Shaka~ I think I just cringed at the dinner fail reminder! It's bad when you don't follow your own recipe properly!! LOL

Lassie~ You crack me up!

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