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The Fried Chicken Debate


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Joyce, first of all I want to thank you for giving all of us at eGullet an opportunity to question an expert in the only truly American cuisine.

One long running discussion here at eGullet centers around the PROPER way to prepare Fried Chicken. Some philistines (like eGullet founder Jason Perlow :biggrin: ) hold out that deep frying, because it is a more even and a "safer" method results-wise, is the way to go. Others contend that the only real Fried Chicken is pan or shallow fried.

What's your opinion on this matter of great importance?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Hi Jhlurie,

I read your message, jumped up and ran into the kitchen, got out a ruler and measured the 3-inch deep, 12-inch in diameter cast iron skillet that I have been lugging around with me--well I can't say how long because you can guess my age--but for years.

That's what I fry chicken in; that's what my mother and all the women in my family fried chicken in. We were not of the deep-well school. Fill this skillet about three-fourth full with oil, heat to 350 to 360 degree and fry away.

Remember to use lots of black pepper for real soul flavor. Dust the chicken lightly with flour but no gummy wet batter, please. Enjoy.

Great recipe in my cookbook, "Soul Food." I tell you how to cover the pan for a brief during the frying, resulting in a crackling-like skin.

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Hi TrishCT, again,

I don't get carried away over oils. I grew up with chicken fried in lard, which imparted a delicious, crackling-like flavor.

Health considerations began shading my kitchen later on. Then I switched to sunflower oil and canola, which have high smoking points but impart little flavor. This summer I have been frying green tomatoes, corn fritters and fish, such as sardines, porgy, and smelts, with grapeseed oil, which also has little flavor but a high smoking point.

But I think good quality peanut and corn oil provide the best flavor for frying chicken, and I use them too. Both have a relatively high smoking point. Basically, any of the above oils fry well; I tend to grab which ever I have on hand.

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