Chicken—any way you like it

Your complete chicken cookbook, from flavorful roasts to seasonal salads

Making foolproof fried chicken

Julia Lee, aka the Fry Queen, shares her secrets for mastering the classic

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Essential tools
Thomas J. Story

Essential tools

Deep-fry thermometer. Lee knows when the oil is hot enough simply by how it looks: “It becomes reflective, almost like a mirror. But when you’re just starting out with frying, a thermometer is imperative.”

Heavy, deep pot. “I prefer cast iron, plain or enameled. It does a better job of maintaining heat.”

Splatter guard. Get one with a very fine mesh to trap the oil. Lee’s also has little feet on it, so it can rest on a surface without creating a mess.

Chopstick.  “I do a chopstick test to check the oil. If the tip sizzles and forms bubbles like Champagne, the oil is ready.”

Tongs. Use these not only for getting the pieces of chicken in and out of the pot, but for gently stirring the oil too. “It helps keep the temperature constant.”

Slotted spatula. Lee uses this, rather than a slotted spoon, to scoop the chicken out of the oil. “Martin gave it to me years ago. It has a great curve to it and a lot of slots, so it drains well.”

Rack with tray. “It allows air to circulate all around, so the chicken stays crisp—versus on a paper towel, where the bottom gets soggy. And be sure to lay the chicken on the rack in a single layer. If it’s piled up, it’ll steam.” 

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