Step by Step keys to making extra crispy fried chicken and a dope jerk fried chicken recipe to match.
I know people lose their mind when discussing fried chicken, so I’m not gone even say I make the best. However, if you follow the steps I outline in this post, yours will always be in the conversation. In the spirit of the late, great and gone way too early Nipsey Hustle, I’m going to pay it forward and drop some fried chicken game down to you.
There is a recipe for jerk fried chicken that follows the fried chicken dissertation. The actual recipe was created as part of my March Madness menu. I had a bad feeling my brackets were going to be hot garbage this year so figured fried chicken would provide the necessary comfort. I was right, but I encourage you to cook up a batch, invite some friends over, and debate my March Music Madness Bracket to determine the greatest R&B group of all time.
Now, let’s get down to business. If jerk fried chicken were a college hoops team it would be the 1990 UNLV Runnin Rebels; brash, rebellious, athletic, but well coached with the versatility to play any kind of game including delivering an early rd TKO. Fried chicken should be crispy AF, juicy, possessing a taste bordering on orgasmic, and definitely eaten without utensils. The crunchy skin should be part of the chicken vs. just being connected. By “part of” it shouldn’t fall apart after you bite into. I want as many bites to include both crunchy skin and juicy meat. Ain’t nothin worse than taking that first bite and things just falling entirely apart leaving behind flesh only. So how do we get to this fried chicken nirvana that makes you feel so good like that love Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes sang about. I will confess the crunchy skin and the juicy seasoned flesh should both be able to stand out on their own individually, but together it should be some next level 1+1=3 type math shit!
Good, real deal fried chicken goes beyond just batter and frying oil. It takes skill, finesse, and heart.
Making great, extra crispy fried chicken following these 12 tips
- Choose the right chicken, preferably one on the smaller side (3 pounds). Bone-in dark meat (thighs and legs) is juicy, flavorful, and harder to dry out during cooking. If frying breasts, them break them into smaller, more manageable chunks before cooking. They’ll cook faster and help you avoid overcooking them
- Season at every level including marinade/brine, flour dredge, and post frying
- Brine your chicken but not too long. Anything more than 24 hours will lead to mushy chicken. Buttermilk is an easy, traditional brine that is extremely effective at flavoring the chicken while tenderizing and keeping it moist. Feel free to flavor your brine with your favorite spices, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, hot sauce, etc.
- Add neutral tasting liquor like vodka to your brine as well as additional salt. This is a tip I got from the guys at Serious Eats who are one of my go-to sources for food science. Vodka is the secret ingredient to a crunchy crust. Serious Eats’ J. Kenji López-Alt writes, “It (vodka) is much more volatile than water (which is the main component of buttermilk, pickle juice, or pretty much any other fried chicken marinade you’ll be using). As such, it evaporates much more rapidly and violently. This helps drive moisture off the crust of the chicken faster, while also creating bigger vapor bubbles, adding surface area to the crust. Both of these things mean crisper, lighter fried chicken.” 2 tbsp of vodka for every cup of your brine/marinade is recommended amount.
- Do NOT fry cold chicken directly from the fridge. Let it rest for 30 minutes to get to room temperature. Cold chicken will lower the temps of your hot oil making it difficult to evenly cook the chicken.
- Add corn starch to flour mixture. It’s completely starch sans any gluten and has a greater crunch factor than regular flour. Corn starch also has the added benefit of providing that deep, golden color. Even better, if you have access to gluten-free flour, just use this absent of any regular flour or corn starch. Less gluten = crispier chicken
- Add some of your wet marinade to your breading mixture. Adding wet ingredients to the dry flour coating makes the breading crumbly that you can then take the time to pack the flour and those crumbly pieces of flour which results in a craggy, crusty and light crust.
- After breading the chicken let it air dry on a cooling rack in the fridge. This will help ensure stickiness/adhesion of the crust to the flesh and get you that preferred oneness between the crust and flesh. After about 30 minutes or so the chicken will have a wet look as if it absorbed all the flour, but don’t fret as this is a good thing.
- Double fry your chicken once on high heat and then on low with at least 10 minutes in between frying. Time permitting I’ll let my chicken rest about 30 minutes in between fryings.
- Use neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut, safflower, or canola. Lard is always an option too.
- Don’t crowd your pan/fryer with too much chicken. Let the birds breath to ensure crispiness.
- Season your chicken immediately after frying
Making Jerk Fried Chicken
The South meets Jamaica in this fusion dish. If you make this jerk and buttermilk fried chicken dish please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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Jerk Fried Chicken
The South meets Jamaica with this Southern fried jerk chicken. Extra crispy fried chicken is brined in a jerk-buttermilk marinade, deep fried and topped with dry jerk seasoning mix.
FOR THE MARINADE
- 2 chicken thighs skin on/bone in
- 2 chicken legs
- 2 cups low fat buttermilk
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp jerk marinade Walkerswood or Grace commercial brands are great
- 4 tbsp vodka
FOR THE COATING
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 1 tbsp dry jerk spice
- 4 tbsp reserved wet marinade
- Peanut Oil
- 1/2 tbsp dry jerk seasoning
- 2 tbsp hot peanut oil used in cooking
FOR THE MARINADE
- In a mixing bowl combine the buttermilk, salt, jerk marinade, and vodka and mix well. Add chicken to a bowl or ziplock bag and cover with marinade. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
- Remove chicken from the refrigerator and let cool to room temperature on a wire wrack. Reserve the marinade for use in the coating.
FOR THE COATING
- Add the flour, starch, and spices to a baking dish (or a brown paper bag) and mix well. Add 4 tbsps of the reserved marinade. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the marinade 1 piece at a time and coat well in the seasoned flour, pushing the crumbly bits of flour into the chicken. Shake off excess and reserve on a baking sheet. Time permitting place chicken on wire rack and let sit uncovered in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- When all the chicken is dredged in the flour, add about an inch of oil to a heavy frying pan or cast iron skillet. Over medium-high flame, heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Test by dropping a small piece of the coating from the chicken into the oil. The coating will bubble and begin to fry. Add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until the outside is browned and the meat is cooked through.
- Remove the chicken from the frying pan and place on wire rack. Time permitting let the chicken rest 30 minutes or more. Then fry again at 350 degrees for 3-4 minutes
- Remove chicken to wire racks. As chicken rests, collect hot oil from the pan/fryer and pour into a small bowl. Add the jerk spice and mix well. Spoon or brush the hot mixture over the chicken. Enjoy
- Season generously and at each step
- Marinate or brine the chicken overnight for max juiciness
- Add a little bit of liquid to your dry coating mix for Popeye's level crunchiness
- I used jerk flavors but feel free to use your seasoning of choice but try and stay true to the technique.
- Use a high smoke point oil like peanut or canola oil.
- After you coat the chicken with flour let it rest on a rack for 20-30 minutes to form a crust before you fry it.
- Allow chicken to warm to room temperature before frying which will help it to cook through.
- Add a starch - potato, corn, or tapioca to get more crispiness.
- Drain the fried chicken on a wire rack set over a foiled lined baking sheet. They'll cool, crisp, and dry off all at once.