No one really thinks about the complex things happening when they dredge chicken in flour. Besides allowing batter to stick to the fat, flour adds glutenin and gliaden, which, when mixed with water, form gluten -- the same gluten responsible for bread's chewiness gives structure to fried chicken's crust and creates bubbles that make it airy and crisp. Coating chicken for frying without all-purpose flour poses some problems you have to work around, mainly creating a crust with the same properties. Pulverized grains for protein, xanthan gum for thickening, leavens for rise and cornstarch for air pockets comprise the solution.
Things You'll Need
- Mixing bowl
- Kosher salt
- Baking powder
- Xanthan gum
- Paper towels
- Wire rack
- Baking sheet
- High-protein nonwheat flours, such as sorghum flour, corn flour and quinoa flour
- Dried spices (optional)
- Flour sifter
- Shallow dish
- Cream or milk
- Dutch oven
Whisk a 24:4:1:0.5 ratio of cornstarch to kosher salt to baking powder to xanthan gum in a mixing bowl, or 1/4 cup cornstarch to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to 1 teaspoon of baking powder to 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum per whole chicken. This comprises the base dredging powder.
Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and dredge them in the base dredging powder. Place the chicken pieces on a wire cooling rack set on top of a baking sheet and place it in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least one hour but as long as 12 hours. The dryer the skin the better.
Mix together equal parts of three high-protein nonwheat flours. For example, 1/3 cup each sorghum flour, corn flour and oat flour has enough protein to replace the gluten in wheat flour, as does 1/3 cup each white rice flour, quinoa flour and potato starch. Although you could use 1 cup of one type of nonwheat flour and still have a crisp coating, thanks to the base dredging flour, the texture would suffer. Mixing three types of nonwheat flour, however, adds variances to the texture of the coating while keeping the protein content high enough to brown properly. In addition to the aforementioned high-protein nonwheat flours, amaranth flour, spelt flour, chickpea flour and teff flour all make capable additions to the nonwheat-flour combination.
Add dried spices such as oregano, paprika or freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Whisk the nonwheat flours until homogenized.
Sift the nonwheat flours into a shallow dish using a flour sifter. Whisk a few whole eggs and a spoonful or two of cream or milk in a bowl to make an egg wash.
Remove the chicken from the fridge. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash and let the excess drip back into the bowl.
Lay the chicken in the shallow dish of nonwheat flours and coat each piece heavily on all sides. Press the flours in firmly with your fingers. Pack as much as you can on the chicken, making sure to get in the nooks and crannies, and gently shake the excess off into the dish. Place the breaded pieces of chicken on the rack set on top of the baking sheet while you heat the oil.
Deep-fry the chicken in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven half full of 375-degree-Fahrenheit peanut oil until golden brown with an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, or about eight to 10 minutes.