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October of 2010 was the time of a memorable event: the last great SubGenius Devival in New York City, in which I accompanied several close friends to attend the a twisted (and enormously enjoyable) wedding at that great event. However, that very same night also introduced me to cheap inner city fried chicken for the very first time. Several years later, the memory is still fresh in my head:
We were riding in a cab back to the hotel, and I saw something out of the corner of my eye: "Kennedy Fried Chicken," which I'd never seen before. I commented on that, and my girlfriend immediately said, "Ghetto chicken! We're eating there tonight!" "What, there?" "Yeah!!" "Umm, okay…" And a little while later we were walking the streets of New York City at 1:00 AM, dressed in Renne Faire garb, to buy a box of greasy chicken and fries. That's one of those moments one doesn't soon forget. The fries were so-so, the mashed potatoes were bland, and the rolls were stale and tasteless. But the chicken was pretty damn good, and I found I liked it better than the greasy stuff you get at KFC. Later I also learned these chicken places can be found all over the East Coast with names like Crown Fried Chicken, New York Fried Chicken, Kennedy Fried Chicken…and if you go looking for one, the most likely place to find one of these chicken places is in the, shall we say, more urban areas of the big city. That's why it's often known as "ghetto chicken."
Interestingly, there are a thousand recipes for so-called "imitation KFC" chicken online, but no one seems to have a recipe for making this so-called "ghetto chicken" at home, without having to go to a place that takes your order behind bulletproof glass. Fortunately, some research revealed the actual maker of the seasoning used to make this chicken: Idan Foods at www.idanfoods.com – and the chicken breading itself can be see here.
You can order the chicken breading yourself in a huge 5-pound bag, from Amazon: Amazon page for Texas breading
Homemade fried chicken coating is very easy to prepare, and you can prepare your own chicken coating, rather than the one listed above. This was influenced by a "New York Fried Chicken" place in Worcester, Massachusetts that served the best chicken in the area but ended up closing. The owner couldn't keep it open because, sadly, the employees were trading chicken for crack. I wish I was kidding but this was what happened. This is another reason why you can call this "ghetto chicken": it refers to a run-down urban neighborhood with addicts and streetwalkers roaming the area. When I find myself in an area like this (whatever the reason) and I'm hungry, I look for a fried chicken place like that…and usually find one.
Preparing fried chicken requires several items: a lot of oil for frying, the chicken itself, and a large cast iron pan. It is absolutely necessary to fry chicken in cast iron! Anything else will not give the same results, and this is why cast iron and fried chicken go together like cast iron and cornbread.
Pans needed: Large cast iron skillet, dutch oven, chicken fryer or other deep pan. A cast iron skillet should be 12 inches across, so there will be plenty of room for frying the chicken. Even better is a large chicken fryer or deep skillet, or a dutch oven. The good thing about using a deep fryer is the high walls cut down on the grease splatter. A dutch oven is also great for frying chicken, for the same reason. You will also need a wire rack for resting the prepared chicken, both before and after frying.
Place chicken pieces into a bowl or container. Cover with buttermilk. Place the container into the refrigerator, and soak the chicken for at least two to three hours; overnight if possible.
When it's time to begin preparing, add about 1 and 1/2 inches of corn oil to a large cast iron pan, enough so the chicken is practically covered when it fries. Heat the oil over medium heat until the temperature reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit. As the oil is heating, prepare the chicken.
Add 2 1/2 cups of chicken breading mix to a covered container or large bag. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk. Do not rinse off the chicken, leave the buttermilk coating on the chicken. Place chicken pieces into the breading mix, close the container, and shake it until the chicken is completely coated. Remove the chicken onto a rack, and let it rest while preparing the second coating.
Beat three eggs, and add a little water to loosen the eggs. Add some cayenne pepper, paprika and hot sauce, and mix it together. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash, then place them back into the breading container. Shake it a second time to give the chicken a second coating.
When the temperature of the oil reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit, add the chicken pieces to the oil. Fry for twelve minutes. After twelve minutes, turn the chicken over, and fry the chicken for another ten minutes. Check the chicken with a thermometer and make sure internal temperature is at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the chicken onto the rack. Let the chicken rest and drip off excess oil for five minutes. Serve.