Fried Chicken

Undeniably messy but an irresistible treat.
TIME 40 minutes
MAKES 4 to 6 servings
Vegetable oil as needed
1 whole cut-up chicken or about 3 pounds parts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 Put about ½ inch of the oil in a large skillet. Dry the chicken well with paper towels. Mix together the flour and seasonings in a large plastic bag or bowl. Toss the chicken in the mixture, 2 or 3 pieces at a time, until they are well coated. Tap off the excess flour and put them on a rack as you finish. Turn the heat under the oil to medium-high.

2 Add a pinch of flour to the oil; it will sizzle when the fat is ready. Add the chicken pieces, slowly and skin side down. The fit might be a little snug, but as long as the chicken is sizzling but not burning, that’s okay. Throughout the process, adjust the heat and add oil, 2 tablespoons at a time, as necessary to maintain that balance. Cover and cook until you can smell the skin browning, 5 to 10 minutes.

3 Uncover the skillet and tug gently on a piece with tongs. If it releases easily, turn it; if not, cover the pan again and cook for another minute or two. Once all the chicken has been turned, cook, uncovered, until the other side is well browned, 5 to 10 minutes.

4 The smaller pieces will be done first. To check, remove one and cut into it close to the bone; the meat should be firm and the juices run clear. Keep cooking and turning (again, adjusting the heat as needed) until all the chicken is done inside, another 5 to 10 minutes. As the pieces finish cooking, transfer them to paper towels to drain. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

  • Fried Boneless Chicken: Use about 1½ pounds of boneless chicken breasts, tenders, or thighs. Pound them to an even thickness, dredge them, and heat the oil as described in Step 1. But cook them uncovered, for just 3 to 5 minutes per side. They’re done when the outside is crisp and the interior is white or very slightly pink.
  • Fried Chicken with a Thick Coating: Soak the chicken in 4 cups buttermilk— either for several hours in the fridge or for up to 1 hour on the counter. Before adding a piece to the flour mixture, hold it over the bowl for a few seconds to let some of the liquid drain off. Then continue with the recipe.

  • Dredging the chicken in a plastic bag (instead of a bowl) is the best way to completely coat the pieces and is much easier to clean up.

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