Chicken is a quality protein and a positive addition to your diet. Fried varieties should only be eaten as occasional treats, due to the extra calories and fat added. If you're going to invest the time making fried chicken, you want the best fried chicken recipe possible.
While you can technically boil chicken before frying it, you'll end up with a compromised flavor and, possibly, a crust that falls right off. Most recipes call for a flavorful marinade to be applied to the chicken before frying; boiling it first rinses this marinade off. Boiling the chicken makes it extra slippery, too, so your breading mixture has a hard time clinging to the skin on your chicken pieces.
You’re better off going the classic route when it comes to making fried chicken. Use a flavorful marinade to soak your chicken pieces, bread them and then fry the chicken at a relatively low heat until the coating is golden brown. Boiling in advance is not necessary.
Classic Fried Chicken Recipe
If you cook up your fried chicken with care and a good recipe, you'll have a winning dish. Whether you're tempted to boil it first to speed up the cooking process or because you believe it will make your chicken more tender, step away from the pot of water.
It's simply not necessary to boil chicken before frying it. You may actually compromise the bird.
A classic fried chicken recipe involves soaking the chicken first, in a flavorful marinade consisting of buttermilk and spices such as cayenne, salt and oregano. Let the parts soak for a minimum of four hours, and up to 24 hours.
Then, bread in your coating of choice and fry at a relatively low temperature of about 350 F, according to a USC Viterbi School of Engineering article. Use a cooking thermometer to monitor the frying temperature and keep it consistent. When the chicken is a deep golden brown, it's likely done. Do check it with a food thermometer, though. It should read 165 F or above, according to the USDA.
Precooking Your Chicken for Frying
A classic fried chicken recipe that has you marinate, bread and cook the parts — no precooking — takes about 15 to 20 minutes in the oil to cook through. Darker meat takes longer to cook than white meat.
If you want to speed up the process, you might consider precooking the chicken prior to adding the breading. One recipe for boiling chicken, created by British chef Nigella Lawson, calls for boiling chicken in milk for about 20 minutes. Then you dredge and fry the chicken pieces.
According to the recipe, this cuts frying time to just one minute per side. This shortcut means you need to put lots of flavor into the breading, however, because any flavors you put into the marinade are boiled away.
Another way to precook chicken is to bake the pieces prior to cooking. Baking first helps save time when frying, but preserves all the flavor of your marinade.
To bake chicken before frying, marinate as you normally would, then place the chicken into a 350 F oven for 30 to 40 minutes — so the thickest parts cook up to 165 F internally, especially near the bone. Cool it all down before frying.
When you are ready to place the pieces is in the oil, let the baked chicken come up to room temperature, and then dredge as you would normally. Fry in 350 F oil, just as you normally would, but only for eight to 10 minutes. This means your cooking time is cut in half, which is particularly helpful if you are preparing a batch of fried chicken to serve a lot of people at a dinner party or picnic.
A healthy alternative to frying the chicken is dredging and baking the chicken in the oven. In this manner, you get a crispy coating without the added fat. A fried drumstick contains 193 calories and more than 11 grams of fat, according to USDA FoodData Central; a large baked one has 145 calories and 7.6 grams of fat.
Precooking also offers you the advantage of knowing that the chicken is already cooked to a safe temperature in advance. You don't have to rely on the frying process to do this job, and can focus on finding the ideal flavor and texture.
- Bon Appetit: "7 Fried Chicken Common Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them"
- The Kitchn: "This One Tip Makes Homemade Fried Chicken Way More Fun"
- USDA: "Cooking Meat?"
- Food Network:"Southern-Style Deep Fried Chicken"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chicken, Fried, Drumstick, Meat & Skin"
- USC Viterbi School of Engineering: "The Science of Fried Chicken"
- Nigella Lawson: "Homepage"
- USDA Food Data Central: "Chicken Drumstick, Baked or Roasted"