Pollo Frito — The Weekender

by in Recipes, January 27th, 2012

pollo frito
Until last weekend, I’d never made fried chicken at home. This is primarily because I grew up in a household that did not deep-fry. My mother preferred the kind of cooking that employed a nonstick skillet and the barest coating of heart-friendly olive oil. When we’d go out to eat, she would expound on the many dangers of fried foods and point my sister and me toward lighter, more healthful options. French fries were a very rare treat and chicken fingers came only in baked varieties.

It wasn’t until high school that I had my first piece of fried chicken. A dear friend’s mother prided herself on her perfectly cooked, crisp, tender drumsticks and delighted in making it for us. I gobbled it down hungrily and didn’t tell my family.

In recent years, fried chicken has gotten increasingly trendy. It’s got a pleasantly retro-kitsch appeal, so higher-end restaurants have begun to add it to their menus. I’ve taken advantage of those offerings on occasion, all the while believing that it was still something best left to professionals or those families with a serious fried chicken tradition.

Then, last Saturday, that all changed. My husband and I woke up to a city covered in snow and decided that we’d venture out early for a few provisions, before heading home for a cozy day. We picked up groceries at our local market and included a cut-up fryer among our dozen eggs, broccoli and bag of oranges. Instead of stewing, baking or roasting that chicken, I decided to spend my Saturday making Giada’s Pollo Frito. Truly, there’s no better time to tackle The Weekender than on a snowy Saturday in January.

pollo frito deep fry pot

Before you start heating your oil, here are a few things you should know:

  • The recipe instructs you to marinate your chicken for 2 to 24 hours. I managed to have mine in the fridge for 3 1/2 and I wish I’d had a few more hours. Next time, I think I’ll mix it up the night before, for maximum flavor infusion.
  • People always say this about frying, but I was reminded of just how true it was with this project: Don’t crowd the pan. Giada suggests frying the chicken in two batches, but if your pan is small, opt for three.
  • The one flaw in this recipe is that there’s no instruction as to the temperature you should shoot for with your oil. I did a bit of research and found that the sweet spot is somewhere just between 350 degrees F and 375 degrees F. Pull out your candy thermometers and make sure you stay on top of your heat adjustments.
  • After you’ve pulled your chicken from the oil, use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that it’s fully cooked. Insert into the meat, making sure not to touch the bone. The goal is to reach 165 degrees F.

Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, also called Food in Jars, will be published by Running Press in spring 2012.

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Comments (8)

  1. Garden_Spot says:

    This is Off Topic as I couldn't find anything close to the issue I had wanted to discuss. Please Food Network, what will you be doing with Paula Deen at this point in time?

    After the incredible and blatant deceit that she has imposed on her loyal fans, how can anyone (you included) trust what she has to say about food or health? If she actually CARED for those with Diabetes, she would have come out already instead of waiting 3 years to reveal she has been living with the disease. It appears clear that she only has come forth for her own benefit and not those fans to which she claimed such allegiance.

    ­I will not be returning to watch her shows, buy a product or listen to her advice again. I truly feel betrayed by her very silence on this entire affair, while remaining mum on the subject to her fans. It appears that her very lucrative Spokesperson deal with the Pharmaceutical firm for their new Diabetic drug is the only reason she has decided to venture forth.

    I also find it a bit odd that all of her co-chefs on this network are remaining silent on the subject…what gives?

  2. Farm Girl Granola says:

    Garden-Spot – you seem like an intelligent person. Were you deceived in any way into thinking Paula's cooking was healthy? I certainly wasn't. Someone who proudly declares her love of butter is not trying to trick her audience into thinking she's concerned with proper nutrition. She never claimed to be healthy and in my opinion has done nothing wrong. Her diabetes and how she handles it is her own private business. Get over it and leave her alone. No one ever forced you to watch her show in the first place.

    And as for what Food Network needs to do at this time? Why would they do anything? It appears to me that she has fulfilled her contractual obligations and has continued to have highly rated shows. Are you suggesting that all Food Network chefs disclose all health related problems? Celebrities should be allowed a private life.

    Finally, I love Paula and have even traveled to see her in person. But anyone who did not know, just by watching one show, that she couldn't be healthy with her eating habits was just not thinking.

  3. JaCox says:

    Well stated Farm Girl Granola!! I AGREE with every word! I don’t ever comment but I have to say Let It Go and everyone use common since!

  4. Velma says:

    Well, I am a down home southern woman grew up in Dallas, Texas but I lived in Philadelphia for 5 years, but of course I had to come back home although I loved Philly. Enough about where I lived the reason I am writing this comment is this subject Fried Chicken. Just last night I cooked fried chicken and I will admit it is imperative that one marinate the chicken my advise leave it marinated over night, the taste intensify completely, also the marinating the chicken allows the batter to stick more firmly and the crust after the chicken is fried is exquisite. Here in Dallas so many restaurants cook delicious fried chicken.

  5. @slpsharon says:

    I agree that Paula Deen never deceived anyone. I AM a diabetic. I watch her shows, and her son's shows. I do not fix her food. I watch for entertainment because I once loved those foods.

    She had to finish her obligations, and as a diabetic for 2o years, I can tell you it is not easy to adjust to at all.
    My family has a lot of diabetics. My great grandfather had it, my uncle had it, and it still shocked my family to learn I had it when I was diagnosed.
    I think we should be a little gentler.

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