There’s no food on earth that frying doesn’t make better. Tomatoes? Fry ‘em. Potatoes, why yes, I do love French fries. Fish and chips? You had me at fish.
But the ultimate fried food has to be fried chicken. Chicken is the LBD of the poultry world – dress it up or dress it down, but for heaven’s sake, do something to it, because on its own, it’s rather bland.
So while I don’t come from a family that fried food of any kind on a regular basis, we are a curious lot, and always up for a challenge. And frying food is nothing if not challenging when you don’t have the foggiest notion what you’re doing.
That’s why I blame David Lebovitz for my fried chicken escapade. Over the summer, he posted about a sure-fire method for ensuring a clean stovetop post frying, and he caught my attention. If there’s something I do not want to do after standing in the kitchen for hours, it’s clean the stove top. David suggested lining the cooktop with tin foil, which you then throw away (although I’m sure he meant “recycle”). Et voilà! Fried chicken AND a clean stovetop.
Since it was a rare rainy summer day in San Diego, I immediately decided that fried chicken would be THE perfect weekend cooking project. I decided to start small, baby steps, so to speak. Instead of truly frying the chicken, I’d fry then bake the chicken in the oven. Salmonella is no friend of mine, and I am not ashamed to say I don’t have enough kitchen confidence to fry chicken until it reaches 165°.
My girl Ina has the perfect oven-baked fried chicken recipe and as with all things Ina, the chicken could not have better if Edna Lewis herself had made it for me. The outside crust was crunchy with just a hint of spice, and the chicken meat itself was to die for – moist, flavorful, and so unlike standard baked chicken breasts.
When I told the cashier at Trader Joe’s about my cooking project, he said, “Wow, but that’s really fattening.” True, but it was also really, really amazing.
After all, I’m not making this every night of the week. Because who wants to clean the stovetop that often?