Friday, September 23, 2011

Recipe: Gluten Free Fried Chicken

Fried chicken in a cast iron dutch oven

Fried chicken is a fine thing. It's been around for centuries, but didn't really come of age until the 1700's when cast iron cookware became available to the masses by virtue of the industrial revolution (Yay capitalism!).

Lately, fried chicken has gotten a bad name. I attribute most of this bad press to the money-grubbing numbskulls who bought out Colonel Sanders in 1964.

Fried chicken can't be rushed. It should be moist but not greasy. It should be full of savory chicken flavor and not loaded with synthetic chemicals. Most importantly, it can't be made from chickens that have been force-fed chicken manure, arsenic, and dead chicken mince (why does this even need to be said?). For this reason, use organic chicken. Organic chicken is the cheapest of all organic meats... and is even cheaper when bought whole.

This recipe is pretty easy and results in some damn fine dutch oven fried chicken. It serves 4, and takes about 1 1/2 hours.

A butchered whole organic chicken
My preference is to buy a whole chicken and butcher it into skin-on and bone-in pieces, but you could of course use fryer parts (breasts, thighs, drumsticks).

It is best to brine your chicken for 24 hours, but if you don't have time for that, you can still make this recipe (add one extra tablespoon of salt to the marinade).

As always, you can use wheat flour in place of the gluten free flour, and things will work out fine.

  • 1 whole 4-5 pound organic chicken (or equivalent pieces)
  • salt and water for brine
  • 2 quarts canola oil for frying

For the Marinade:
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons table salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • dash ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
For the Breading:
For the Egg Mixture:
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup marinade (once the chicken is out)
Brine the chicken (whole, or in pieces) for 24 hours. The brine should consist of 1 cup kosher salt (or 1/2 cup table salt) to 1 gallon of water. After 24 hours, remove the chicken from the brine, and pat dry with a paper towel.

Butcher the whole chicken into drumsticks, wings, bone-in breasts, and bone-in thighs. Cut the breast pieces in half the short way to make smaller pieces (which cook through more quickly).

Mix up the marinade, and add the chicken pieces. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Use a candy thermometer to measure the oil
Begin heating your oil in a 5 quart cast iron dutch oven. As the oil heats, mix up the breading and the egg mixture.

When the chicken has marinated for 30 minutes and the oil has reached 350 degrees F, remove 1 cup of the marinade and stir it into your egg mixture.

Prepare the chicken pieces by tossing them in the egg mixture, and then breading them thoroughly in the breading mixture.

Place them gently into the hot oil. Add 4-5 pieces to the dutch oven, but don't over-crowd the pan.

You may need to turn up the heat if the oil temperature comes down below 300 degrees F. Keep monitoring the oil temperature, and don't let it get much hotter than 350 degrees F.

Fried chicken ready to be turned
As the chicken fries, you'll need to turn it a few times to ensure even browning.

Larger pieces will take 20-25 minutes to cook through, smaller ones 10-15 minutes. Measure the pieces as they cook with an instant read meat thermometer to ensure you get it right.

Remove the fried chicken pieces from the oil when the thickest (coldest) part of the meat reads 160 degrees F. Lay the pieces on a bed of paper towels, and cover them with foil to rest. As the pieces rest, they'll come up to 165 degrees F.

Continue breading and frying pieces until it's all cooked! Serve immediately for hot fried chicken, or put them in the fridge for a cold fried chicken picnic.

Fried chicken with potato salad and bleu cheese salad
Needless to say, fried chicken goes great with potato salad, cole slaw, and fresh corn on the cob.

You can cool down, strain, and then freeze the canola oil for re-use. You can also re-use it in other chicken dishes, or in dishes with lots of flavor (where the taste of fried chicken will blend in).

Be sure to clean up thoroughly with bleach or vinegar any raw chicken juice. Salmonella isn't as big an issue with organic chicken, but it's still a risk.


  1. I think Google ate my comment. Any way, what I said was that among my friends, I'm the only one who makes fried chicken. Most of them think frozen lasagna and bagged salads from Costco on a daily basis is a healthier way to go. I'd disagree, of course, and say that a little fried chicken once a month on top of a regular diet of unprocessed foods is a far better thing. They might think they'll live longer, but they certainly won't live better.

  2. Some days Google thinks comments are as yummy as fried chicken...

    But seriously, amen to that! As near as I can tell, the French eat nothing but duck fat and red wine... and they're all pretty happy and healthy, right?

    Fried chicken once a month at a minimum!


  3. Derek... Looks like we have a lot of the same interests!
    Here is my post on fried chicken.

  4. Hey Don,

    I'd have to agree! Great post... looking forward to reading more.


  5. Derek ..Hi I found your blog on udis web about apple crisp ..I seen your friend wanted to give you credit and well she should. I have never used cast iron and well next week I plan on trying .. I'm a gluten free mom and have three girls that are as well. here is the shocker .. ready I adopted my step granddaughter and she is gluten free as well that makes 5 of us in one house .. crazy I know .. I have been looking for a fried chicken thats good. I cant waite .Hope this makes you smile your helping a big family .. and I have learnd a lot but not the duch oven cast iron .. and we love camping.. Thanks for posting gf ...

  6. Hi there,

    Hope this recipe feeds your houseful of gluten free folks well!

    Please let me know how it goes. Thanks.



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