Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paleo Fried Chicken

Does eating a paleo style diet mean you have to give up comfort foods you’ve always loved?  Absolutely not!  In fact, for me, it has meant reintroducing some foods I once believed to be unhealthy.  I feel better about indulging my comfort food cravings now more than ever as I’m in control of the quality of ingredients.

Today, I am putting Paleo Fried Chicken from Paleo Comfort Foods to the test.  When I first tried this recipe, it was the first time I had ever made fried chicken and I was a bit afraid of it.  I got my cast iron skillet out and was ready to go.

Step number 1 is to heat the oil.  I decided to hold off on heating the oil until I had prepped the chicken.   I made both drumsticks and boneless thighs this time around.  After whipping up my eggs and combining all of the dry ingredients, I dipped each piece of chicken in the eggs, and then the dry ingredients.  I’ve watched many a cooking show and know the key is to supposedly keep one hand dry and one wet, but I’ve not been able to execute that perfectly, so after a few pieces, I end up with globs of egg/almond flour goo on my fingers.  In my second attempt, I knew to mix up a little more almond flour/spice mix to compensate for what would be lost on my fingers.  Thankfully, the battering process works as well for the chicken pieces as it does my fingers.  Here is my chicken before frying.  

I then put oil in my cast iron skillet and waited for it to heat and turned the oven on.  One kitchen gadget I did not have at the time was a instant read thermometer and while its nice to know what temperature your oil is actually at, its not needed for good results.  I tested the oil by dropping a pea size (or less) bit of almond flour/egg goo into the oil.  If it sizzles, I figure I’m ready to fry.  While frying the chicken, watch to make sure the oil doesn’t start to smoke and adjust your stove top accordingly.  When you place the chicken in the skillet, don’t put too many pieces in or your oil will cool  too much.  How many is too many?  I put as many pieces in as possible while making sure the pieces don’t not touch. Watch your pan for feedback as to oil temp and make adjustments as necessary.  As I’m a bit detail oriented, I actually set a timer for 2 minutes for each side.  

I had to fry a few batches before I was ready to put the chicken in the oven.  I set the timer for 15 minutes.

And here is the result:

Ingredient Accessibility and Cost:  The only item that may be hard for some to find is the almond flour.  To be honest, I’ve never bothered to look for this at my big box store but your “natural” grocery store should have it.  I’ve bought a big bag from Honeyville Food Products and have been pleased with it.  I recommend vacuum sealing what you need to store or keep a small amount in the refrigerator to ensure freshness.  

Cooking time:  I have not timed myself making this recipe but will the next time I make it and update this post accordingly.  

Clean up:  The clean up isn’t too bad.  If you have one, I recommend some sort of splatter guard for your skillet as the oil will fly!  I usually have to scrub down the stove top and wall behind the oven after making this.  The only non-dishwasher item I used was the skillet.  I usually wait for the remaining oil to cool a bit, pour excess oil into a glass container and wipe the skillet out with a paper towel.  If it needs further cleaning, I use a little salt, scrub brush and water.  No soap!  After cleaning, I put some coconut oil in the pan and put it back on the burner for a bit until its hot.  Once hot, I use a few paper towels to spread the oil around on all surfaces of the pan to season it.  

The Paleo Review:  Awesome!  I have made the chicken a few times and am never disappointed.  The chicken is very juicy and flavorful under that crispy crust.  I’ve not tried white meat yet, so I don’t know how that would turn out.   After years of skinless chicken breast low fat diet torture, I’ve sworn off of white meat at least for now.   Because this has almond flour, I consider this a paleo treat for occasional enjoyment.  I was able to personally thank Charles Mayfield for this recipe at a conference.  Thank you again, Julie and Charles Mayfield.