What do you want from your takeout order of fried chicken? You probably want it to be crispy on the outside and lusciously moist on the inside. And you want the seasonings to complement the chicken but not overwhelm it. And that the portion is big enough to allow for future snacking.
A Banquet of Chicken and Its Aftermath
You and your friends ordered a huge amount of fried chicken. After all, that 60-piece party-special hot-chicken box sounded pretty good, and you even got free sides to go with it. But now you realize your eyes were bigger than your stomachs, and you’ve got plenty of chicken left over.
Sometimes, enough is enough. You don’t really feel like you’re going to want fried chicken again the next day. So you freeze it for future use. That’s a good idea.
How to Freeze Your Leftover Chicken
Allow the chicken to cool down a bit before freezing it, but don’t wait too long. To avoid bacterial invasions, freeze the chicken within two hours.
For the best results later, freeze the chicken properly. This means putting it in an airtight container, such as a tightly sealed heavy-duty freezer bag. For added insurance, wrap the freezer bag in aluminum foil.
Correctly stored, frozen fried chicken can last up to four months. By that time, you’ll surely be hankering for it again!
Thawing the Chicken
If you thaw your chicken in the fridge, it will last another three to four days. If you’re in a hurry, put the bag of chicken in a bowl of cold water, and make sure the water doesn’t leak in. It will thaw quicker, but you have to use it immediately.
How to Reheat It So You'll Want to Re-eat It
You'll get the best results by reheating your fried chicken in the oven or by convection cooking. Before using any reheating method, let your chicken reach room temperature, which should take 15–20 minutes. This prevents it from losing moisture during reheating, but don’t leave it out too long!
After your chicken has arrived at room temperature, place it on a wire rack over a sheet tray and heat in the oven at 350 F for about 15 minutes. Turn the temperature up to 400 F to ensure a crispy exterior. Heat for another 5–8 minutes, or until a meat thermometer shows the interior temperature is 165 F.
If you have a convection oven on your countertop, using it is an easy way to quickly reheat the chicken and retain its crispiness. The way the heat is evenly distributed throughout the oven ensures that all the pieces are heated equally. Place the chicken pieces on the baking tray and heat at 400 F for about 15 minutes.
About the Microwave
Yes, it's possible to reheat fried chicken in the microwave – as a last resort. If you just put it on a plate and push the button, it will turn out soggy on the outside and tough on the inside. In order to minimize this pathetic sort of result, place the chicken pieces on a microwaveable plate and wrap in microwaveable paper towels. Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, until it's heated through. It won't be extra-crispy, but it will be good enough when you're on the fly.
Judith Tingley is a writer, editor and multi-media artist based in Louisville, Kentucky. The many articles she has written for online publications reflect a broad range of interests, including international travel, cultural history and cookery. She loves finding adventures along the back roads of America. Judith was educated at the University of Chicago. Visit her website at heyjudetheobscure.com.