Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Quick Fried Chicken

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

If you still don't know what to serve for Sunday's big game, you might want to consider this Quick Fried Chicken from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn. Homemade fried chicken might seem like it falls into the realm of "Southern grandma cooking," but it's not too difficult to make at home and doesn't require nearly as much work one might assume. Aside from the fact that fried chicken is pretty much universally adored, it's an "eat with your hands" meal that can be enjoyed hot out of the fryer or at room temperature, qualifying it as a great dish to feed a big group.

Quinn's recipe is fairly quick and uncomplicated as far as frying chicken is concerned, and the taste and crispy texture don't suffer for it. The chicken is soaked in a mix of buttermilk and hot sauce for as little as an hour, but preferably for several more. Once the chicken comes out of the marinade, the real timesaver comes into play. Instead of setting up multiple containers for dredging and inevitably making a big mess, Quinn puts her seasoned flour coating into a bag and shakes the chicken pieces inside. This was a real revelation since I had yet to make a batch of fried chicken that didn't leave my counter a floury sticky mess.

If you haven't fried chicken before, an important thing to keep in mind is that it takes much longer than you would think, approximately 15 to 20 minutes per side. This is a time when it might be wise to occupy yourself with another task since the crust of the chicken will suffer if you poke and prod it during the frying.

I made this Quick Fried Chicken for last night's dinner and it turned out beautifully. The hot sauce and buttermilk gave the chicken a moist and tangy flavor, and the crust was shatteringly crisp with a nice amount of heat from the pepper and cayenne. The two of us tore through almost an entire chicken, only saving a piece or two to be enjoyed cold as tomorrow's lunch.

Win Mad Hungry

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Mad Hungry to give away this week.

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