How to Fry Chicken in a Cast Iron Skillet

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Fried chicken is a quintessentially American dish. It is a picnic standard and a regular on dining tables, especially in the South. Cooking it in a cast iron skillet makes it better--and even more American in character. Cast iron pans are useful in the kitchen, both for their ability to withstand high temperatures and for their long-lasting heat retention. They also are valuable for their non-stick properties. Cast iron is the perfect pan for making perfect fried chicken.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 to 3 lbs. chicken parts
  • 1 medium bowl
  • 2 large bowls
  • 1 qt. buttermilk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. powdered sage
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 4 eggs
  • Baking rack
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil or shortening
  • Deep fat/candy thermometer
  • Cast iron skillet, at least 12 inches
  • Meat thermometer

Prepare the Chicken

  • Rinse the chicken parts under cold running water and place them in a bowl. Cover with the buttermilk, then marinate the chicken in the buttermilk for three to four hours. Keep the chicken covered and refrigerated.

  • Combine the flour and seasonings in a bowl. Crack the eggs into another bowl and beat them well.

  • Remove one piece of chicken at a time from the buttermilk, starting with the largest pieces of chicken. Allow the excess buttermilk to drip off, then bury the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour. Keep the pieces separated from each other. Leave them in the flour for about 10 minutes.

  • Roll the floured chicken in the eggs, then bury in the flour again. Leave the chicken parts in the flour for another 10 minutes, then remove them and place them on a rack. Allow them to dry while the skillet heats.

Cook the Chicken

  • Put the oil or shortening in the skillet. Heat it on medium to 350 to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Use your candy/deep fat thermometer to verify the temperature.

  • Place the chicken in the heated fat. Do not crowd the pan. If necessary, cook the chicken in two batches.

  • Brown the chicken quickly and thoroughly. If the chicken does not brown quickly, raise the heat slightly. Once the chicken is browned, reduce the heat, if necessary, so that the fat maintains a temperature of about 325 degrees. Reduce the heat if the chicken seems to be getting too brown too fast. Cooking time will be about 30 minutes. The internal temperature of the chicken should be about 165 degrees when checked with the meat thermometer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Each piece of chicken needs to be browned quickly on the outside for crispiness, then cooked at a lower temperature to cook through.
  • The larger pieces will take the longest time to cook.
  • If the fat seems to be too hot, reduce the heat and remove the pan from the burner for a minute.
  • Use your thermometers to guide your cooking process.
  • Make sure your meat thermometer is in the center of the chicken piece and not touching any bone.
  • Do not allow your oil to go above 375 degrees. High temperatures will degrade the oil and lessen its ability to properly fry.
  • Allow your chicken sufficient time to dry and develop a non-soggy exterior before placing it into the oil, to avoid spattering and popping.
  • Never allow any liquid to enter the skillet.

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