Foolproof fried chicken starts with already cooked chicken!
Think about it. You don’t have to worry about getting the chicken being underdone inside without burning the outside if you don’t have to worry about getting the chicken cooked through at all. The only part of the frying process you have to worry about is the part you can see, developing a beautiful crisp crust. Even better the frying process only takes minutes so you can do batches more quickly. Genius. Use any chicken parts you like. Large breasts do best if cut in half for easier cooking and eating.
To poach the chicken, cover the pieces with salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the internal temperature of the pieces is about 170º F. Depending on how many pieces are in the pot, it should take about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the water to a platter and allow to cool and dry. You can dab the skin with paper towels. (Don’t throw out the water! The bonus is that you’ve made lovely chicken stock for making soup or cooking rice.) Or you can cool, cover and refrigerate the chicken pieces until the next day or two. Dredge the chicken in seasoned flour. We often keep things pure and don’t bother with an egg wash before flouring. Don’t scrimp on the flour either. It’s too cheap of an ingredient to nickel and dime over. You want your pieces well coated so allow the chicken to sit in the seasoned flour for a few minutes so that the flour sets on the chicken. Your seasoned flour can start with self-rising flour which already has salt in it or all-purpose. To get the salt right, just taste a pinch of the flour mixture. Start with 1/2 teaspoon per cup. It’s also helpful to use a fine-grained salt that will easily blend with the flour. Other popular additions are Lawry’s seasoned salt, lots of black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.
For an easy Nashville-style hot chicken, add plenty of cayenne to the flour and even more sprinkled on the just cooked chicken.
Fry the chicken a few pieces at a time in a large deep sided skillet or Dutch oven. The oil should be a couple of inches deep and heated to about 365º F. Cook until well browned on one side. Flip and brown the other side. Remove with tongs to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
Here’s a link to our Singapore chicken rice story for another great variation of poached chicken.
Links to our favorite fresh sides to pair with fried chicken: