Thanks to the 48cent chicken sale at Albertson's, my freezer is currently home to 7, yes 7, fryer chickens. So, in all honesty, I never knew why a fryer was called a fryer, but thanks to my good friend Alton Brown, I now know. It does not merely have to do with the lil size of Mr. Chicken, but in fact the tendency to achieve perfect uniform "done-ness". Apparently a fryer's skin and meat will finish at the same time, giving you tender juicy chicken, and nice golden, crisp skin. Super cool! I have always wanted to cut up a fryer myself, but have never really tried until this week. I had really wanted to photograph the process, but it turns out having chicken grease all over your hands isn't conducive to handling a muy expensive digital camera...who knew?
Thankfully, you can go to either foodnetwork.com or youtube.com and find a million and one great videos that show you how to cut up a chicken beautifully. I prefer the one by Alton Brown, he's so scientific about it, lol. My first attempt was a little sketchy, but in the end, all the pieces looked perfect except for one slightly anemic looking thigh.
I don't really have a recipe per se, for fried chicken, but more of a method. I rinse, pat dry, and (now that I've learned) cut up the chicken, put it in a large bowl and cover it with buttermilk. I usually add some extra drumlets for the littles. Then it sits in the fridge, covered, over night. The next day, I pull it out of the buttermilk, and set the pieces on a large platter. The wet chicken gets a hefty dousing of kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic salt, paprika, and sometimes cayenne pepper. Occasionally I may add lemon pepper, or seasoned salt, but usually just the basics. Coat both sides of the chicken, dredge in flour, and fry! I prefer the southern method of frying in (collective sigh...) shortening. It just makes a crisper fried chicken. The mistake I've made in the past, is to set my oil/shortening temp too high, thus burning the heck out of Mr. Chicken's skin before cooking the meat through. In my deep-fried brain, I just never thought that actual FRYING could happen on medium to medium low heat, but it does indeed! I found that about 10-14 minutes on each side (assuming you are cooking multiple pieces at once) on medium low heat works perfectly, occasionally upping the temperature when new pieces are added. Our favorite it to serve it with garlic mashed potatoes, and homemade collard greens.
I ALWAYS use the leftover chicken pieces from cutting up the chicken to make homemade chicken stock. It's a great economical use for the leftover raw chicken bits, and it makes the house smell fantastic. Here's my very easy stock recipe...
In a large stock pot combine:
Leftover chicken (spine, breast bone, neck, giblets, etc)
1 roughly chopped carrot
1 clove of garlic, halved
1 bunch of celery leaves (I just cut off the top most portion of a bunch)
1 roughly chopped celery stalk
a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 yellow onion, halved.
Fill your stock pot with water, and bring to a boil. You can skim any weird foam off the top if you wish. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes on medium low heat. Allow to partially cool, strain, and store. I like to freeze it for later use.