Being a northern gal, I don’t have any family fried chicken recipes passed down to me, so I’ve never had the impetus to make it at home. But when I saw Sunny Anderson make her Cider-Brined Fried Chicken on Cooking For Real, I knew I had to try it. Naturally Sunny makes everything she cooks sound delectable, but I could tell this recipe was going to be special.
Coincidentally, I also happened to have the Emerilware by T-fal Deep Fryer in my kitchen, a sample that the vendor had sent about two years ago and one which, I’ll sheepishly admit, I hadn’t ever used. (I’ll also sheepishly admit that I’m somewhat afraid of deep frying things because of the high potential for disaster, even though I know the Emerilware fryer makes it virtually foolproof.) Sunny’s recipe has glowing reviews on our site, and Emeril’s fryer is one of the most popular products in the Food Network Store, so I decided that these two were a match made in heaven, and that it was time to kill two birds with one stone and inaugurate the fryer by testing out the fried chicken recipe.
The first thing you do in Sunny’s recipe is mix up a brine made up of apple cider, salt, and water. Many fried chicken recipes call to soak the chicken in buttermilk before frying, and although I don’t keep strictly kosher, I try to avoid combining meat and dairy products in the same dish, so I was happy to have found this non-dairy alternative.
While I let the chicken soak away in the fridge, bobbing around the brine in a mixing bowl, I got the fryer set up and ready to go. It’s really a cool product, and I love that once you’re done frying, the contraption automatically filters and drains the oil into a storage chamber located underneath, where you can save it until your next use—I’m all about reducing waste in the kitchen!
I then took the chicken out of the fridge, dipped it in a beaten egg mixed with a generous dose of cayenne pepper, and then shook it in a paper bag with flour and cornstarch. The next step is to let the chicken rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes to allow the coating to set up, so while that happened I got the oil heated and ready to go. I was pretty amazed at the fryer—it really takes any guesswork out of the temperature setting, heating, and timing!
Finally the chicken was ready to go in, and with some admitted nervousness I loaded up the basket with a few pieces, then dipped it into the fryer’s reservoir. Immediately the oil started bubbling furiously which got me a bit scared, but once you put the lid on the fryer and set the timer, there really isn’t anything to do but wait patiently while it works its magic.
Once the time was up and I trepidatiously removed the cover, I was both relieved and rather excited to see two pieces of perfectly golden brown fried chicken sitting in the basket, ready to be gobbled up. I finished frying up the rest of the chicken, then sat down to a southern-inspired meal with a few friends that also included some collard greens and homemade biscuits that I’d whipped up earlier. Luckily the chicken’s taste matched its appearance… the skin was addictively crispy and perfect, while the meat was tender and moist as it should be, with a subtle kick from the cayenne pepper. My friends were duly impressed, and I was exceedingly pleased with both Sunny’s recipe and Emeril’s fryer, my two other friends at the table.