The March 21 Experiments - Dry Mix Ratios

(Update December 2017) Before getting into my old 2013 experiments report, here is someone from the Chowhounds website who did something similar...that is, testing different starches for batters.

Experiments in Fried Chicken Breading

LumpyNose on Chowhounds Forum | Sep 18, 2015 07:04 PM
I got a new carbon steel frying pan that I'm in love with and have been trying out frying different things, chicken of course being one of them. I like experimenting and here are some ideas that I've come up with. I'm curious to know if others have had success with other off the beaten path ideas.
Of course the most important part is getting the spices and salt right.
Instead of the tried and true white wheat flour I've tried
*) Quinoa flour. I goofed that up because I used an undiluted egg. That makes the breading stiff and it flakes off. I now mix the egg with an equal amount of water. Quinoa does have a different flavor, but I didn't taste it. Quinoa flour is also expensive.
*) Sorghum flour. Nothing special.
*) Instant potato flakes ground/pulverized in the blender until they're like corn meal or bread crumbs. At this point I think I had the spices worked out although it was just a wee bit too salty. It was an nice texture.
*) Masa / tortilla flour. This is the nixtamalized corn flour. It has a very strong flavor so I never use it by itself but will use something like 3/4 cup other flour, 1/4 cup tortilla flour. Or maybe 50/50. Definitely adds an interesting flavor.
*) I also have some teff flour that I'm going to try. I've made quick breads with teff and it has a noticeable flavor. It kinds of reminds me of this Boston baked bread that my grandmother used to buy that came in a can, but that was many decades ago so my memory could be faulty. But it does have a noticeable flavor.
*) Oat flour should be interesting. You can make your own by whirling regular oats in the blender until they're a fine powder.
*) I saw a recipe that used corn meal but I'm thinking that that might be too crunchy and was thinking that grinding the corn meal into a corn flour might be an interesting experiment. (Assuming you have a grain mill; I have the Kitchen Aid grain mill attachment.)
*) White rice flour I'm guessing would be unremarkable, although brown rice flour might have some flavor. My favorite rice is this dark reddish rice called red cargo rice; it has a wonderful flavor and texture for a brown rice. I should try milling some of it.
Besides trying different flours another idea I had was to use powdered chicken bouillon (e.g., Knorr) instead of salt. Powdered chicken bouillon has a lot of salt in it and it should add some more flavor. I think that about 2 1/2 teaspoons per 1 cup of flour is a probable starting point. 3 was a bit too salty and 2 was a bit undersalted so next time I'm going to try 2 1/2 teaspoons.

The Dry Mix Experiment – March 21, 2013

To test batters using ratios of AP wheat flour, brown rice flour and corn flour.

To a large bowl, I added 4 cups (32 fluid ounces) of buttermilk, 4 pounds of chicken breasts cut into thirds, 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper. I added one small bottle of Louisiana hot sauce. The chicken sat in the wet bath for two hours. Deep fry method and Crisco vegetable oil heated to 350F.

Trial One: 50% wheat flour and 50% brown rice flour
Great crunch right out of the pan. Can definitely taste a subtle Rice Chex flavor, becoming a little sour tasting but not at all unpleasant. I will use the word particulate to describe the crust. Each individual grain as opposed to a smooth overall crust. Bread like or Panko like as opposed to a wheat flour only batter. As the fried chicken sat, the internal heat and steam was enough to cause the crust to fall apart. Thus, this would be an eat while just out of the pan recipe. Not bad.

Trial Two: 100% brown rice flour
This is basically the ingredient, plus salt and seasonings of the store mix called Kentucky style. Very similar to Trial One. A smoother crust reminiscent of those fish stick crusts. Not bad.

Trial Three: 33% each of wheat flour, brown rice flour and corn flour
Again a very particulate crust. When it came out of the fryer I got really excited as it looked like the crust of Gus’s. But no. Not a bad crust though. There’s something in Gus’s batter that makes an almost candy like thin crunch which is leading me back to flour based batters I think.

Trial Four: Back to classic wheat flour only
Except to the ½ cup dry mix I am using for these experiments, I added two teaspoons of sugar before coating the chicken. Absolutely the crunchiest of these so far. I can taste the sugar and would want to reduce it in future experiments. So, the classic yields the smoothest coating and crunchiest-ness.

Trial Five: No dry mix at all, just chicken in buttermilk, thrown into the pan and stand back!
D.O.A. No good.

Trial Six: 66% wheat flour and 33% corn flour
Crunchy crunch. My favorite so far. 

Trial Seven: The Witches Brew
I did 1.2 cup of each dry mix in order to fry up two pieces of chicken. I dumped the rest into a measuring cup and am now just frying up a few pieces from this dry mix.
If it turns out okay, I can always replicate it by looking at the ratios above.
Man, that is some good chicken. Probably not worth the effort of mixing all three flours though.

Trial Eight. The Slurry
I poured a second bottle of Louisiana hot sauce into the buttermilk and dumped the rest of the Witches Brew into the liquid. Let the chicken soak and then threw them in the hot oil.
The first slurry attempt was an epic fail. Greasy, the batter didn’t stick. Just nasty. So increased the amount of flour to result in a thick cake batter consistency dipped the chicken and threw it back in the fryer. Because of the extra hot sauce, the crust got really dark, burned even. But the crunch was terrific. I could taste the hot sauce. And all in all this came closest to Gus’s though still no prize. Still not a thin crackly crust. Back to the drawing board. Could it be as simple as flour, buttermilk, spices in a thick slurry bath?

Trial Nine and Beyond
Have to now work on lower protein flour such as cake flour ratio’ed with AP flour. Another day.

Supplement - Update April 13, 2013: For a friend who does not tolerate wheat flour, I mixed 1 cup of brown rice flour, 1 cup of corn flour and 1/2 cup of potato flour and fried several pieces. In order to cook through, the chicken had to stay in the fryer a long time and the crust got very brown. This was a thin, cracker like crust almost non existent. A sour aftertaste to the crust. Not recommended unless you cannot use wheat flour.

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