December 31, 2013

The Ice Water Bath Method

I had a lot of chicken to play with for the March 31 lunch. I had bought 6 lbs. of chicken breasts and cut them into three pieces each before adding them to the Thomas Keller brine. A friend of mine who is familiar with the recipes used for the fried chicken in a lot of those convenience stores and I were talking about another method.

In their case, they dip the chicken pieces into the seasoned flour, then into an ice water bath, then back into the flour, and then the fryer. This is the same basic technique that I have seen around the I-10 corridor picnics. Ice cold water, which I can vouch for cause I once did an assembly line in Cistern. And then, sometimes some milk is added.  Here is a link to the Cistern video.

Check out those big bags of Pioneer brand flour. For Texas authenticity, use Pioneer. Note the yellow in the final dry mix . I wonder if there is some corn meal or corn flour too?

So today, I did the ice water bath with a couple of pieces. The result was a very dense, crunchy crust. I haven't come up with good descriptive words so I will throw out, crunchy, bread like, dumpling like, flour-y, thick, heavy, etc.  for now. A perfectly fine variation on fried chicken that would probably hold up really well to heavier amounts of seasoning. And one very typical of the church picnics I've mentioned elsewhere. This is not a light cracker-like crust.

Update: Additional comments on ice water versus milk (not buttermilk):

With shallow-frying, the batter can burn on the bottom. This isn't the case with deep frying. Hence, my preference for deep frying.

By going with either ice water or just the moisture from the chicken instead of milk you will get that crunchy crust. When wet batter comes into contact with the hot frying oil, the moisture in the batter is going to vaporize, and that will leave behind the solids to adhere to the chicken. When you are using milk, there are sugars in the milk that are going to brown quickly and will probably result in a softer crust. That seems to prove out based on the results from that New Orleans style canned milk and egg wet bath that I tried.

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