Fried Chicken for a 4th of July Picnic
The 4th of July, America’s favorite summer holiday. The day that millions of us will gather with family and friends, bringing with us coolers of drinks, Tupperware full of salads, and buckets of fried chicken. The idea of a picnic seems almost mandatory. Checkered tablecloths are unrolled, festive plates are neatly stacked, plastic silverware has been sorted, and paper napkins are weighted down with stones, all in anticipation of the treats to come. It is time for a party.
Preparing Fried Chicken:
Cooks note: I do not have one secret recipe I use for frying chicken, this post is more about the method and the technique. I like to mix it up and use different flavors and spices, but the chicken always turns out crisp and tender.
Pour about 1″ of peanut or vegetable oil in the bottom of a large heavy skillet. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat until oil shimmers (Oil takes time to heat, do not try to hurry it by using a high heat).
Skin on or off is totally up to you. Thoroughly rinse the chicken parts under cold water and pat completely dry with paper towels (Water and hot oil are not a good combination).
Set up a dredging station next to your skillet. I use three containers. Cornstarch in the first, an egg beaten with a teaspoon of cold water in the second (I add a dash or two of hot sauce to the egg if the mood strikes), and breading in the third. When it comes to what to use for breading, there is an endless variety of things that work well. Here are a few ideas, I am sure I have not listed everything. Bread crumbs (seasoned or not), cracker crumbs (any variety), crushed potato chips (I save the broken ones from the bottom of the bag, sour cream and onion are great), crushed corn chips, corn meal, instant potato flakes, or any combination there of. It is fun to mix it up, and depending on the breading you use, you can add a layer of interest to your chicken. The breading is also where I add herbs like Italian seasoning.
Use only one hand for dipping, keeping the other one clean to hold your containers or grab a towel. Start by coating the chicken in cornstarch. I find the egg wash sticks to it much better than using flour and it leaves no taste. Shake off the extra cornstarch, and gently roll the chicken in the egg wash, then into the breading and directly into the hot oil. Be careful not to drop the chicken in the oil, just gently slip it in. The oil should bubble but not splatter.
Do not overcrowd your skillet with chicken, make sure the is plenty of room around the parts to cook evenly. (As the chicken begins to cook, the heat of the oil will increase. It may be necessary to turn down the heat slightly to prevent the oil from splattering). Fry until the breading begins to turn a golden color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully turn using tongs, and cook again for another 8 to 10 minutes. (Cooking times vary depending on your pan, type of oil, and size of the chicken pieces. Trust your eyes more than a timer to let you know when to turn).
I usually serve fried chicken at room temperature, after all it is picnic food, but If I am cooking chicken for a crowd and want to serve it warm. I heat my oven to 200°F and place a wire rack on a baking sheet to hold the finished pieces until everything is done.
When your chicken it a golden brown, place on wire rack over paper towels to drain. Served hot or cold, this bird will be a hit at the party.
And no picnic would be complete without some side dishes………………………..
And don’t forget a few appetizers………………….
And last but not least, a couple of dessert options……………
I hope everyone enjoys a very happy and safe 4th of July!