Trying to copy the Colonel

ASK THE CHEF

April 24, 2005|By Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan | Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan,Knight Ridder / Tribune

I'm trying to make good fried chicken. KFC is the only kind of chicken that my kids will eat. I've tried many types of batter, but none have come even close to what the Colonel makes. Do you have a good fried chicken recipe? Thank you.

Col. Harland Sanders realized that people did not have a long time to wait for their food. He figured out a way to pressure-cook the chicken so that he could serve it up quickly. The 11 herbs and spices contributed flavor. I came as close as I can with the herbs and spices in the following chicken recipe that you can bake or fry. But, I'm not encouraging you to use a pressure cooker as a fryer and blow up your house.

Secret Recipe Chicken

3 whole eggs, beaten

1 quart buttermilk, or enough to cover the chicken pieces

1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (use only if baking)

3 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil for basting if baking, or about 1 cup if frying

For the spice mix:

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon celery salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dried mustard

4 tablespoons paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk in another large bowl. Soak the chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture for 2 to 4 hours.

Combine all the spice-mix ingredients, including the flour, thoroughly in a large bowl.

One piece at a time, shake off excess liquid and dredge in the breadcrumbs to evenly coat. Then plunge each piece in the flour mixture, coat, and shake. (If frying, omit the breadcrumbs and dredge buttermilk-soaked chicken in flour only.)

To bake: Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Place chicken pieces on a rack on a cooking sheet and cover with foil (shiny side out). Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for 30 minutes more. Baste lightly with vegetable oil 5 minutes before removing from the oven. Allow chicken to stand 5 minutes before serving.

To fry: Place about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in the bottom of a large frying pan or pot and heat on high until hot. Place as many pieces of chicken in the pan as will fit without crowding. Cook 20 to 30 minutes (depending on size of pieces), turning half way through, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining pieces.

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