Skillful frying results in crisp and flavorful chicken, but that hot oil can be a terribly inhospitable environment for a tender bird. Breading or battering the chicken pieces first protects the skin and meat from the oil's intense heat, with the added benefit of providing a crisp, golden coating that's both tasty and eye-pleasing. A batch of your favorite pancake batter, either scratch-made or from a mix, is a quick and easy option.
Prepare the pancake batter by following the recipe.
Cut up your chicken and pat the pieces dry with clean paper towels. Cute large breasts in half so they cook more quickly and evenly, and separate legs and wings at the joint.
Pour 3/4 inch of vegetable oil into a broad, deep skillet. Heat the oil on medium-high until it reaches 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit on your frying thermometer.
Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, then dredge the pieces lightly in flour or dry pancake mix. Shake off the excess before dipping into the pancake batter. Use tongs to transfer the chicken to your skillet. The oil temperature will drop to 300 or 325 F, an appropriate temperature for the chicken to cook gently.
Cook the chicken for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the batter turns crispy and golden. Flip the chicken and allow the pieces to cook for another five to eight minutes, depending on their size. Monitor the temperature of your oil and turn down the heat if it goes above 325 F.
Remove one piece of chicken and insert a meat or instant-read thermometer into the thickest portion to ensure that the chicken's interior has reached a food safe temperature of 165 F. Return it to the pan for a few more minutes if necessary.
Drain the chicken pieces on paper towel for two to three minutes before serving.
Don't crowd the skillet. It's best to cook large quantities in smaller batches. Keep your chicken warm in a preheated 200 degree F oven until all the pieces are cooked.
Any chicken parts, from breasts to wings to backs, can be battered and fried. Cooking time varies with the size and thickness of each piece.
Use a spatter screen to minimize the mess at your stove, and the risk of being burned by flying fat.
- Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition; Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, et al.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Chicken From Farm to Table
Serena Styles is a Colorado-based writer who specializes in health, fitness and food. Speaking three languages and working on a fourth, Styles is pursuing a Bachelor's in Linguistics and preparing to travel the world. When Styles isn't writing, she can be found hiking, cooking or working as a certified nutritionist.