It was a day for multiple celebrations, not the least of which was the birthday of my father who turned a respectable 87 years young. As little as 6 weeks ago, celebrating Dad’s birthday was not a given, he was ill and had to be hospitalized for quite some time. So when he was able to be at home, sitting at the dinner table surrounded by family and friends I was of course going to prepare for him anything he wanted. And what he wanted was fried chicken.
Given the circumstances I was not about to tell him that it had been at least 15 years since I had eaten, let alone made, fried chicken. Aside from not being typically gluten-free, fried chicken just hasn’t been something that fit in well with the way we eat these days.
So I kept my lack of fried chicken experience to myself and dug out my old recipe box which contained all sorts of notes about the perfect fried chicken gleaned from cookbook authors, elderly Southern ladies and an old guy who made the most incredible, crispy chicken I have eaten and must have been about 107 at the time. And then I went about figuring out how to make perfectly crispy, juicy, tender, gluten free fried chicken.
I decided to use a combination of methods for no other reason than why not? I soaked the chicken in buttermilk, dipped it into beaten eggs spiked with Tabasco and coated it. For the coating (so important to crispy chicken) I used a combination of gluten free flour and starch – 1/3 cup starch to 1 cup flour. I used superfine white rice flour but any gluten-free flour (or combination) you like would work and for the starch I used potato but then again, tapioca would be just fine as well.
The frying method recommendations I had were two – lower temp for a longer period of time or higher temp for shorter time. Hmmm, dilemma time as trusted sources were equally divided on which way was best. So I tested it out – some pieces I fried at 350 degrees for about 14 minutes and some I fried at 380 degrees for 8 minutes. I could detect no difference in taste or texture so I opted for higher temp for shorter time because patience is not a virtue I have in spades.
The results? Super tasty gluten-free fried chicken: crispy and crunchy on the outside, moist and juicy on the inside and loaded with flavor throughout.
It was a seemingly simple dinner; fried chicken, buttery smashed potatoes, green beans in brown butter with almonds and to top it all off gluten free Pineapple Upside Down Cake. But it was so much more. It was a celebration! We celebrated the birth and renewed health of my father, being together as a family and for me; I did a private little happy dance at savoring the first piece of fried chicken since going gluten free.
Here’s how I made my chicken:
Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. Our family likes dark meat so I just used legs and thighs, you can use a whole fryer if you prefer.
Whisk eggs with a good dose of tabasco.
Dunk the chicken into the eggs and shake off the excess.
Coat the chicken pieces really well with the seasoned gluten free flour.
OK, pay attention – this is a big tip! Once all the pieces have been coated in flour, let them set for 5 minutes then coat once again.
Pour oil into a deep frying pan making sure not to fill more than halfway up the sides of the pan. Heat oil to 380 degrees.
OK, here is another BIG TIP. Place the fried chicken on a cooling rack placed over a sheet pan lined with paper towels. This will keep you chicken much crispier than laying it on a flat surface lined with paper. You can keep the chicken warm by placing the chicken on the rack into a warm oven.
So there you have it! Crispy, crunchy, juicy, tender, gluten-free fried chicken. A little bit of heaven in a drumstick.
What food causes you to do a little happy dance in celebration?
Gluten Free Fried Chicken Recipe
3 -4 pounds cut up chicken pieces
1 quart buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
1 cup superfine white or brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato or tapioca starch
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus more for seasoning the chicken
½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning the chicken
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
Place the chicken pieces in a baking dish and pour on the buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and pat dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Whisk the eggs together in a bowl with the Tabasco.
In another bowl whisk together the flour, starch, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
Dip the chicken pieces into the egg mixture then shake off the excess egg and coat well with the flour mixture. Push the flour into the chicken to coat well. Place on a plate and once all the chicken is coated let sit for 5 minutes. Coat the chicken in the flour mixture again.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place a wire cooling rack on top. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Fill a large, deep frying pan or Dutch oven halfway with oil. Insert a frying or candy thermometer. Heat oil to 380 degrees. Once the oil is to temperature, carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil, do not crowd the pan. Let cook for 4 minutes and flip over. Cook for 4 more minutes. You may have to adjust the temperature to keep the oil at 380 degrees. Remove the cooked chicken and place on the cooling rack, sprinkle with a little salt. Place in oven to keep warm while finishing up the rest of the chicken. Let the oil come back up to temperature and repeat with remaining chicken.
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