Things You'll Need
Fried chicken started out as one of the simplest and most basic ways to add heartiness and flavor to meager ingredients, but over the years the idea of perfect fried chicken has taken on almost mythic proportions. Complicated innovations notwithstanding, the key to scrumptious, crunchy fried chicken rests with the heat of the oil. An electric skillet allows even beginners to keep their oil at the optimal temperature to create a mouthwateringly crisp crust every time.
Pat your chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Drying the pieces thoroughly will help the crust adhere to the meat.
Crack an egg into a shallow bowl and add 1 to 2 inches of milk. Whip the egg and milk together until they are thoroughly blended.
Fill a second shallow bowl with plain all-purpose flour. You can use breadcrumbs, but flour makes a more delicate crust because it absorbs less oil. Season the flour with salt and pepper, mixing the spices thoroughly into the flour.
Dip your chicken pieces into the milk-and-egg mixture one at a time, holding each piece up for a few seconds to let the excess liquid drain off.
Roll the dipped chicken in the seasoned flour, patting the flour gently into place with your fingertips to help it stick. Dip the chicken back into the milk-and-egg mixture and roll it a second time for a thicker coating.
Fill your electric skillet with 2 to 3 inches of canola oil, vegetable oil or peanut oil. Chicken breasts with the bone in will require more oil than boneless breasts or tenders, but they do not have to be completely submerged to come out crisp and tender.
Heat the oil in your electric skillet to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a few pieces of breaded chicken, being careful not to crowd the pan. Putting too many chicken pieces in at once can lower the temperature too much, resulting in soggy chicken.
Cook the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how thick the pieces are. Boneless chicken tenders will cook much more quickly, so check the undersides after about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces with tongs and cook them until the coating is a rich golden brown and the internal temperature of the thickest piece reaches 165 F.
Place the cooked chicken on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Place the plate in an oven heated to 200 F to keep it warm if you are cooking a crowd-sized batch.
Let the breaded chicken sit for 15 minutes or so before frying it. Drier breading adheres better when it meets the hot oil, and room-temperature chicken comes out more tender than chilled chicken.
Do not use the same plate or utensils for your cooked chicken as you did for the raw chicken to avoid risk of contamination.