The vessel. A deep fryer would certainly make your job easier and allow you to cook more chicken at once, but if you don’t have one, you can use your stove top and a pan. In fact, some say that pan-fried chicken has a better flavor. You can use any type of pan -- just make sure that it’s big enough to fit several pieces of chicken.
The grease. Fill the pan with about an inch of shortening or oil. Avoid burnt crust or raw meat by keeping the oil temperature at about 350ºF. To minimize splashing (and painful grease burns or stubborn grease stains), be sure to use tongs for gentle placement and removal of the chicken.
The chicken. Different parts of the chicken will cook at different rates, so smaller pieces, like wings, thighs and legs, are easier to cook than larger ones, like breasts. You’ll want to cook the chicken for 10 to 12 minutes on each side, or until each piece turns a golden brown on the outside with an internal temperature of 180ºF.
The flavor. There are tons of ways to make fried chicken: Some require soaking the chicken in buttermilk or brine; others demand beer batter or a spicy, floury coating. But for your first time, try this traditional recipe (once you’ve got it down, you can start experimenting with some fancier recipes):
• Wet hand. Set up a bowl with a mixture of milk and beaten eggs. Use about 1/4 cup milk for every 2 eggs. Place this bowl next to the raw chicken.
• Dry hand. Fill another bowl with a simple mixture of 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and about 1/2 teaspoon each of paprika, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Place this bowl between the milk/egg mixture and the frying pan.
• Teamwork! Grab the raw chicken and place it into the milk/egg bath with your “wet hand,” and then transfer it to the floury mixture. Gently toss the chicken in the flour with your “dry hand” until it’s completely covered. Then grab the tongs with that same “dry hand” and place the chicken directly into the pan with the hot oil or shortening.
The final step. Before you get to work, set up a drip station where you can place the cooked chicken after it’s done to drain the excess oil. We recommend laying out newspapers and then covering them with plenty of paper towels.