My mom used to take me and little brother to Zilker Park sometimes, back when we were shorter and more annoying. She’d pick up a bucket of KFC fried chicken to take along and set it in the shade on one of the cement picnic tables while we ran around and got all tired and whiny like kids do until the chicken had cooled to the perfect eating temperature. Then she’d use it as a bribe to get us to sit down and cool ourselves off a bit before we got heatstroke or something.
My great-grandma used to always throw down for a bucket of KFC when she was visiting, too, except she called it “The Colonel’s” chicken because she was old enough to remember the guy back before he had a chicken empire and was just a colonel. I think they even went to highschool together.
Maybe I made that up.
My dad’s always been partial to Church’s chicken. Myself, I like the Popeye’s.
At any rate, though it is possible to purchase quality fried chicken, it’s still pretty fun to make your own. Messy, yes, but I never saw no Colonel’s chicken with goddamn smoked paprika up in it! Slam! Burn on you, Colonel.
The spice rub is one of the most important steps here. Sprinkle it on your chicken pieces at least an hour before you cook to allow the salt and seasonings time to penetrate the meat. I skip the oft-used buttermilk soak; it impairs the crisping of the crust, and that is the most important part. Make sure your chicken is at room temperature before you put it in the oil, and make sure your oil is hot. Use a thermometer if you have one; if not, you’ll know it’s hot enough when it browns a bit of bread in under 30 seconds.
- 1 2-3 pound chicken, cut up into 10 pieces (or equivalent chicken pieces)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons coarse pepper
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 egg
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup water
- Dash Tabasco, to taste
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Oil for frying, ½-3/4 inch deep
- Put the chicken in a large bowl.
- Combine the salt, pepper, and paprika and sprinkle the chicken with 5 teaspoons of the mixture. Reserve the remaining teaspoon for the breading.
- Let the chicken set for one hour, covered, at room temperature if you are cooking now, or refrigerate up to 8 hours to cook the next day. (Before cooking, allow chicken to come to room temperature by leaving on the counter, covered, for 30 minutes.)
- Assemble your breading station:
- Beat the egg in a small bowl with the yogurt, water, and Tabasco
- In another bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, cayenne, and remaining teaspoon of chicken seasoning mix.
- Dip each piece of chicken once into the egg mixture, drain excess, then roll in flour. Tap off excess.
- When all chicken is coated, heat the oil to 350 degrees F.
- Fry the chicken, turning once: wings need 10 minutes total, all other pieces 12 minutes total. Keep the oil temperature between 350-365 F.
- You will need to fry in two batches to avoid crowding the pan.
- Allow cooked chicken to cool 10 minutes before eating hot, or allow to cool completely and then refrigerate to eat it cold the next day.
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