If you can't quite get your fried chicken legs to crisp up and taste like the ones at your favorite restaurant, peanut oil is one element that you may be missing. Commonly used by restaurants for frying, peanut oil is low in saturated fat and because it is highly refined, is also non-allergenic for people with peanut allergies. Use this high smoke point oil to transform an economical fried chicken leg dinner into a surefire crowd pleaser.
Fried Chicken Basics
Season chicken legs with salt and pepper and bring them to room temperature before frying. Dredge the chicken legs in a seasoned flour mixture to enable the creation of a nice, well-browned coating on the fried chicken. Season the flour with salt, pepper, onion powder, cayenne and garlic powder for a flavorful coating. For even more coverage and to obtain a really crisp coating once fried, dip your chicken legs in beaten eggs or milk so that more flour adheres to their surface.
Into the Oil
Pour about 2 inches of peanut oil in a large, deep pot or Dutch oven and bring the temperature of your oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant read kitchen thermometer to accurately gauge the oil's temperature for accurate frying. Lower the dredged chicken legs into the oil using tongs so that you do not splash the oil. Cook each chicken leg for about 10 to 12 minutes or until they are well-browned and the internal temperature registers at 165 F.
Making It Crisp
Even though fried chicken requires oil, that same oil can also be its downfall. It is important that you remove excess oil from the chicken after frying to ensure that it stays crisp. Drain chicken legs on several paper towels, blotting the chicken and flipping it once while cooling to ensure that as much oil as possible is removed. Alternatively, drain chicken on a cooling rack with a plate placed under it to catch excess oil.
For really juicy chicken legs, use the dry-brine method of seasoning them with salt up to 24 hours in advance so that it penetrates the chicken's surface and locks in more moisture while cooking. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per 1 2/3 pounds of chicken legs at least two hours to a full day before frying. To create a really crisp coating, double dredge the chicken and let it sit undisturbed for at least 20 minutes before frying to set. Once finished cooking, place the chicken in a 250 F oven to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve fried chicken legs hot or at room temperature.
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- The Peanut Institute: Peanut Products
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images