Austin Leslie's Fried Chicken
- 2 free-range fryer chickens, about 3 1/2 pounds each or smaller, if you can find them, each cut up into eight pieces
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups peanut oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, in a large shaker (the kind you use for parmesan cheese)
- 2 Tbs. drained, chopped dill pickles
- 2 Tbs. chopped garlic
- 2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Cut the chickens into eight pieces each. Wash the chicken pieces and dry to just damp with a paper towel. Sprinkle about half of the salt and pepper over the pieces. Allow the pieces to come to cool room temperature (60s) before you start cooking.
In a wide bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, water and the remaining salt and pepper.
Heat the peanut oil in a cast-iron skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.
Dip the chicken thighs briefly in the egg-and-milk mixture, and shake off the excess. Then shake the flour over the pieces to cover them all over lightly. Slip the thighs into the hot oil.
Repeat this process for the chicken legs, slipping them into open spaces in the pan. Leave plenty of room between the pieces. Hold back on adding more chicken if the pan gets crowded.
After eight minutes, jab each piece of chicken almost all the way through with a heavy, two-pronged kitchen fork. Austin said that this lets in just enough hot oil to let the center finish cooking without the outside becoming overcooked. He also said that this will not make the chicken too oily.
Fry the thighs until crisp--ten to twelve minutes total frying time, turning once to brown uniformly all over.
Remove chicken to a large unlined strainer (or one of those screens designed to keep bacon fat from popping) set over a shallow pan. (Don't use paper towels to drain; they make the chicken soggy.) Put this assembly into the oven at 200 degrees to keep the chicken hot while you finish the rest of it.
After the thighs have come out, add the breasts, which will take a little less time than the thighs. Add the wings last, about six minutes into the cooking of the breasts.
by Raymond Henderson
I'm looking at a copy of Mr. Leslie's "Creole-Soul New Orleans Cooking with a Soulful Twist". Page 128 is his fried chicken recipe. Page 129 gives "hot tips" for frying chicken. Tip number 1 includes the advice to "Bring your chicken to room temperature before frying".
by Michael Meisner
I have a cook book I believe called The Creole Feast featuring some recipes from Austin Leslie. I may be mistaken but I thought said his secret was having the chicken ice cold. TOMMENT: That is a puzzle to me, too. I have recipes from Austin that say different things about the temperature of the chicken going in. I go back and forth between room temperature and cold, and find that it doesn't make much difference, except that the one fried when cold has a thinner crust.