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.
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons Tabasco or other hot sauce
- One 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces and each breast cut in half again (reserve the neck, back, and wing tips for another purpose)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus a little more for sprinkling
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups peanut oil, vegetable oil, bacon fat, or lard
In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, stir together the buttermilk and Tabasco. Submerge the chicken parts in the mixture and leave as long as possible, at least 10 minutes (but up to overnight-in the fridge-is even better).
In a plastic or paper bag, combine the flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.
Shake the chicken parts, 2 to 3 pieces at a time, in the flour. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Shake off the excess flour. In a 14-inch skillet (or two smaller skillets), heat 2 inches of oil over high heat until very hot. Test with a tiny bit of chicken skin. If the oil bubbles immediately, it is hot enough.
Place the chicken into the hot oil. Evenly distribute as many pieces as will fit in one layer in the pan, leaving 1/2 inch between pieces, and leave to fry undisturbed for about 15 minutes. Lower the heat as necessary to prevent excessive browning before the meat is cooked properly; the oil should continue to bubble steadily. Turn the pieces and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove to a rack to drain. Repeat the process to cook all of the chicken. To keep the first batch warm, place on a rimmed baking sheet in a 200°F oven. Sprinkle with salt and serve.