Making foolproof fried chicken
Julia Lee, aka the Fry Queen, shares her secrets for mastering the classic
Her career highlight so far? Making fried chicken for Public Enemy in 2002, at B.B. King’s in Manhattan: “I came back 10 minutes later, and it was just bones.”
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.”
Recipe: Fried Chicken
For a step-by-step visual demonstration of Lee's frying technique, watch our video.