Ways you're screwing up your fried chicken

Fried chicken is easy to love, amiright? We can all get onboard with everything involved? Fried golden brown crust that's light, crisp, impeccably seasoned and juicy, flavorful meat cooked to perfection. That said, most of us avoid making fried chicken because the task can seem daunting. So much can go wrong when you involve dredging and hot oil. While I see how the easier route would be to order fried chicken from your favorite joint, I urge to give homemade a chance. It's not as hard as you think when you take into account a few handy tips. Once you reach that fried chicken nirvana, you'll never turn back. Here are some common mistakes blocking your path to damn good fried chicken.

Cooking cold chicken directly from the fridge

Take chicken from fridge, dredge, and fry, right? Nooo! Before you do anything to the chicken at all, please let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. When you fry cold chicken, that coldness causes the temp of the oil to drop drastically. As a result, the chicken cooks unevenly. You definitely don't want that.

Not drying the chicken well

Okay, patting your chicken pieces dry with paper towels seems like a small, inconsequential step on the surface, but it's actually quite important to do before you get to the dredging stage. By ensuring the surface of the chicken is completely dry, you get a perfect even coating of flour to stick instead of irregular lumps all over.That's my two cents.

Not using all the chicken parts

Sure, the fried chicken emoji on your iPhone is a drumstick, but that doesn't mean you should only fry up drumsticks! You should make use of all the chicken parts. For large breast pieces, be sure to cut them into smaller pieces so they can cook evenly and at the same rate as the other pieces.

Not using a brine

If you don't want to end up with dry, tasteless chicken, do yourself a favor and be sure to use a brine. Why waste your time with brining? For one thing, it's a surefire way to make any meat cook up tender and succulent. While the practice of soaking meats in salted water may have been used in the pre-refrigeration days as a way to preserve them, the method is just as useful today for rendering better tasting meat. The soaking time may seem long and wear on your patience, but it's well worth it to let that flavorful liquid seep into your chicken over hours before it hits the frying pan. In addition to adding moisture to your chicken meat, the brine injects salt into the meat, essentially breaking down the proteins and tenderizing it. Don't skip this crucial step!

Not seasoning the flour for dredging

In addition to seasoning your brine, be sure to season the flour as well. Your goal is to have flavorful meat and crust. While you can season the dredging flour with whatever spices your heart desires, at the very least you ought to use a liberal amount of good kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Dredging the chicken in too much flour

Fried chicken is best with a light coating of flour. You're going for that light, crispy, addictive crust. No need to dip your chicken in flour more than once. Using too much flour for dredging results in wet, soggy, greasy crust. Simply throw your seasoned flour into a large resealable plastic bag, add the chicken pieces, and shake gently—once!

Using a large pot for frying

While you may think you need to lug out your biggest pot in order to fry the chicken in gallons of oil, you might be surprised that a big pot isn't necessary for small-batch frying. Unless you're making enough fried chicken to service a large crowd, a cast-iron skillet with high sides will do just fine. This way you can easily flip the pieces without scary oil splatters. Yikes.

Using the wrong oil for frying

Be sure to fry your chicken in oils with high smoking points. Generally speaking, refined oils are ideal for frying as they have higher smoking points. The smoking point simply refers to the temp at which the oil starts to break down and emit unpleasant fumes. Sesame, peanut, and canola oils are all great for frying chicken. Extra virgin olive oil, not so much.

Frying the chicken at the wrong temp

Frying chicken at the wrong temp can result in all sorts of sad feelings. Frowny faces often ensue when a cook ends up with burnt crust, undercooked meat, dry meat, or soggy crust. The best way to remedy this is to invest in a cooking thermometer to make sure you're cooking fried chicken at the right temp, which between 300 and 325 degrees Fahrenheit. At this heat, the chicken gets a nice crisp crust (no burning) and the inside is delightfully cooked through.

Leaving the pan uncovered during cooking

If you're not covering your pan during frying, you may find that your chicken isn't as crisp as it could be, or not as evenly cooked. As the chicken fries, pop a lid on top. Doing so encapsulates the heat and helps the chicken fat render, yielding deliciously crisp-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside fried chicken. I mean, isn't that what we all want?

Overcrowding the pan

One of the keys to even cooking is avoiding an overcrowded pan. This goes for veggies, meat, and fried chicken. Work in batches in order to leave plenty of space between chicken pieces. Yo want to have ample room for flipping the chicken pieces to ensure they are an irresistible golden brown all over.

Not properly checking the chicken for doneness

While you may think you can eyeball the doneness of fried chicken, you can't. Depending on the temperature of the oil, the chicken could appear done on the outside due to overzealous browning but in fact, still be raw on the inside. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't risk eating undercooked poultry, okay? Please get yourself a meat thermometer and make sure your fried chicken is safe to eat.

Not letting the chicken rest after cooking

Biting into hot fried chicken is tempting, but you're better served if you wait. You won't burn your mouth eating piping hot meat, plus the resting time gives the juices a chance to redistribute, rewarding you with super juicy chicken. This is all for the best.

Letting the oil drain on paper towels

While many of us instinctively drain fried foods on paper towels so they can absorb the excess oil, fried chicken should be drained on wire cooling rack. Letting those crispy chicken pieces sit on a wad of paper is one surefire way to create steam, resulting in soggy crust syndrome. After all that hard work? No thank you.

Fried chicken recipes to give you inspiration

This fried chicken recipe from MyRecipes is a classic rendition complete with buttermilk brine. That's all you need to know.

This brainy recipe from Serious Eats dissects the science of fried chicken and gives you delectable chicken at the end of the exercise.

I feel compelled to include this copycat KFC recipe from tbsp. because we are talking about fried chicken!

I hope you put aside any fried chicken-related fears and get into that chicken to whip up endless batches of crispy, juicy fried chicken for you and everyone you like.