Ranch dressing is often used as a dip for fried chicken or buffalo wings, so it might seem logical to add the condiment to the chicken itself. For best results, though, stick to a buttermilk marinade followed by a dry breading. Use the freshest chicken you can find and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before you drop it in the oil. Cold chicken tends to sweat, rather than brown, resulting in a soggy finished product.
Don't use a traditional bottled ranch dressing to make fried chicken. The oils in the dressing will prevent it from adhering to the chicken and you'll end up with a sticky mess. Instead, use packets of dried ranch seasoning. The dried seasoning has all the flavor of a bottled dressing without the oil.
Two methods get you that zesty ranch flavor when deep-frying chicken. First, try combining a packet of dry ranch dressing mix with buttermilk. Marinade the chicken in the buttermilk mixture in the refrigerator overnight before dredging the chicken in flour, cornmeal or crushed cereal. Another option is to add the dry ranch dressing directly to your dredging mixture. For example, if you dredge the chicken in flour, add one packet to the flour and mix it well. Either method results in crisp, flavorful chicken. Experiment with different types of ranch dressing mix, such as buttermilk or green onion flavors.
The main drawback to using dried ranch dressing mix is its nutritional value. Most mixes contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), as well as a lot of sodium -- 240 milligrams per 1/2 teaspoon. Mixes also cost more than making seasonings yourself. For a healthier alternative, try an organic herb seasoning or make your own mix with salt, garlic, thyme, dill and pepper. You can add paprika, red chili pepper or dried chipotle powder for extra kick.
Using ranch dressing mix is only one step in making well-seasoned chicken. You also need fresh oil that's been heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If the oil isn't hot enough, the chicken will absorb too much grease. If it's too hot, the outside of the chicken cooks too quickly. The temperature of the oil drops slightly when you place the chicken in the pan, but try to keep it between 300 and 325 degrees throughout the cooking process. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan to verify the temperature. Place a lid partially over the pan during the first part of the cooking time to keep the chicken moist, and turn the pieces over after about five minutes. Cook for five to seven more minutes, or until a meat thermometer shows the chicken's internal temperature at 165 degrees.
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