The Secret to Truly Crispy Fried Chicken

The Secret to Truly Crispy Fried Chicken

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
  1. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of biting into a piece of fried chicken that is nearly as hard as rock on the outside, but then steaming and squirting with juices inside. I usually wear a splotchy brown poncho when I eat friend chicken, the better to hide unavoidable drips and drizzles and to protect my shirt, though my pants inevitably wind up ruined (which explains why I usually eat fried chicken in my undies only, generally at home). All of my life, I have enjoyed one restaurant after another that served scrumptious fried chicken, but my every endeavor at making it at home failed.

    Have you gone through the frustration of trying one fried chicken recipe after another with disappointing, less-than-crispy results? Annoying, isn’t it? I tried recipes from Betty Crocker, Paul Prudhomme, countless volumes whose names I have forgotten and finally the bible of all cookbooks, the Joy of Cooking, and every time the chicken, while very tasty, lacked the crunch I craved. How come Colonel Sanders could do it but I could not?

    Every time I fried chicken, I did so in various vegetable oils. First, I tried canola oil, because it’s supposedly the “healthiest” of the affordable oils (or at least not as unhealthy as most oils). The chicken turned out squishy. So I tried corn oil with the same results. Next came olive oil, which tasted better but resulted in equally limp-crusted chicken, and it also cost me more than I cared to spend on one fried meal. Peanut oil was equally expensive and equally disappointing. Eventually, I reached the end of my wits and gave up, telling my wife that if we want fried chicken, we’d by-God go to the Shakey’s restaurant down the street for it.


    Then, by chance, we acquired three one-gallon cans of a vegetable shortening called Kaola Gold. Knowing it was specifically designed for use in deep fryers, we drained the canola oil from our Presto Multi-Cooker and emptied half a can of the Kaola Gold into it, then I tried one of my many fried chicken recipes and lo and behold, it worked!

    Vegetable shortening is the secret to crispy fried chicken. You can use plain old Crisco if you want, but there are two problems with that: Crisco does not last long, and when it goes rancid, it’s very nasty if you make the mistake of heating it up; also, Crisco does not add to the flavor of the food.

    Ventura Foods named their shortening “gold” for a good reason: it is infused with a butter flavor that may be fake, may be the product of the introduction of various life-threatening chemicals or spells cast by demons (I don’t know anything about this), but even if that’s the case, I’m still using it. The buttery flavor it imparts to fried foods is incredible, subtle and delicious.

    This stuff is not cheap. At the Ventura Foods website, I discovered that I could only buy Kaola Gold in cases of four one-gallon cans for close to a hundred bucks including shipping. Then again, I use half a can at a time in my fryer and it lasts for several weeks without going rancid, as long as I strain it through cheesecloth on occasion; therefore, a case should last me close to a year, and a hundred or so bucks a year isn’t unreasonable for something that brings so much joy to my life.

Leave a Reply