Wednesday, February 4, 2015

KFC Chicken Recipe (Copycat)

 Down below (under the recipe at the bottom of the page) I wrote a lengthy entry on how I came across this "top secret" recipe.   It took quite a bit of searching around, article reading, video watching and such.  Photos of the vials for the actual Secret Herbs and Spices... But this particular recipe has been pretty universally agreed web-wide to be the closest match in taste, and it is the most commonly seen everywhere I look.   However, after watching the videos of the real Colonel Sanders himself and actual KFC employees prepping and cooking the chicken, I can clearly see there is no egg/milk mixture or brining involved, so I did not include that (as many people have).  They just use regular water for the moisture.  I have also posted a recipe for KFC gravy.   Enjoy!   

KFC Chicken Recipe (Copycat)

1 raw fryer chicken, completely thawed and cut in 8 pieces
2 cups all purpose white flour
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tablespoons Accent (an MSG-based seasoning)
Enough water to cover the chicken in a large bowl
1 gallon-size Ziploc bag (or a large bowl)


**TIP:  If you are going to make the gravy too, simply save 1 tsp of the spice mixture, OR 5 tablespoons of the flour-spice mixture to flavor the gravy.

1.       Begin by heating you frying oil.   You can use a deep fryer, or a deep pan or pot filled with oil (there should be enough oil to cover the chicken).   Oil should be kept at 325 degrees.  If frying on the stove, oil is ready when a tiny piece of skin bubbles and raises to the top. 
2.       Keep an area nearby where you can place all the chicken after dipping, like a space on the counter lined with wax paper, or a large plate or tray.

3.       Place chicken in a large bowl and add enough water to just cover it. 

4.       Remove chicken from water.   Then place chicken pieces in either a gallon freezer bag (this is the best option for good coating), or a large bowl.  

5.       In a large bowl, blend the flour together with the spices (oregano, chili powder, sage, basil, marjoram, pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, Accent). Mix until thoroughly combined.  If you are going to make gravy, remove about a teaspoon of this mixture, and set it aside for the gravy. 

6.       Dump the 2 cups of flour in with the spices, and blend well. 
7.       Dump flour mixture in with the chicken.   If using the Ziploc back, zip it closed, leaving LOTS of air inside, so the flower can move around and coat the chicken.   Shake the bag, turning it in all different directions, tossing the chicken around on all sides with your hands.  Make sure the flour goes everywhere.   If using a bowl, turn chicken over and over in the mixture until every piece is thoroughly coated.  
8.       Remove each chicken piece from the flour mixture, one at a time, tapping off the excess flour.  Place on you reserved counter space, or tray.   If you want “original recipe” you may fry the chicken at this point.   If you want “extra crispy, dip each piece back in the water quickly and give it a second coating of the flour/spice mixture, and place back on your reserved counter space, or tray.  
9.       Deep fry chicken for 10 to 15 minutes, if using a deep fryer or until golden brown.  Deep fry 20 minutes if cooking on the stove (turn it over halfway through). 
10.   Carefully remove chicken from the oil, using a metal utensil or a metal basket.  Do not touch the chicken with your hands for at least a few minutes, as it will be very hot.  Serve after it it easy to handle.  

How I Got This Recipe

Ok, let’s talk chicken!   Before we start, I just want to say that I have been reading TONS of variations on the so-called “secret recipe” being cracked by regular people, and also read the reviews. Watched a lot of videos too, of both Colonel Sanders himself and KFC employees making the chicken.    Some people praised the copy recipes.   While others claimed they were “nothing like KFC”.    

But lets list off a few facts about fried chicken, or any food really, that need to be taken into consideration, when reading these reviews, and trying recipes:  

1.        Unless you have the real Colonel Sanders actually standing in your kitchen, you’re NEVER gonna get “the real deal”.

2.       Even if you did have Colonel Sanders in your kitchen, there has never been a cook on the face of the planet who made a dish EXACTLY the same, every time.  

3.       I have been to KFC establishments in MANY different places.   Near train or bus stations and airports.   In several different cities.   In different states.   Even in Germany!  And I can firmly attest that it DID NOT taste exactly the same, everywhere I went.

4.     The recipe or method of cooking by the actual company has also changed over the years.  Yes.   It has.  No matter what they say.  I remember when they announced they were using a different kind of oil for frying, that was healthier, which dramatically changed the flavor.   And the taste of KFC (in general) is VERY different today, than it was when I was a kid.   

5.       Depending when you order it, it will have a different taste/texture.  If its been sitting under the heat lamps on those draining racks a while, it will be less greasy and a little more dry/crispy.   If they just made it fresh, its going to be more oily, maybe even a little soggy, because it didn’t get that time on the drain rack, or under the heat lamp.

Now that all this has been cleared up, let’s talk about how I came by this recipe.   As I said before, I watched a lot of YouTube videos, and read dozens of recipe pages online.  Even read through the Ron Douglas recipe from his book “America’s Most Wanted Recipes”, in which he sets out with a team of cooks to crack the codes of the nations most beloved commercial foods.  Mixed reviews on all.   
But there was one very common mix of spices that most people seemed to be agreeing on, and claiming is the closest match…   

Some people argue the chicken should be brined overnight.  Or dipped in an egg/milk mixture before flouring.   But I disagree.    

In this video of KFC unwrapped,
And in this video of the real Colonel Sanders HIMSELF actually prepping his chicken:
You can see (and/or we are told) that the chicken “gets a quick dunk in water” before being rolled in the flour/spice mixture.  NOT in an egg / milk mixture.   Or butter milk.   No brining either.   Plain chicken is simply soaked down and rolled in the mix.   So at least in that sense, many of the online recipes are inaccurate, which may account for all the “not quite like KFC” complaints.   Looks to me like the real Colonel Sanders kept things tasty, but simple.   

And one thing some of us have always known—the spices used in the chicken are also used in the gravy.    

Some argue that you need the egg/milk dip for the rippling effect on the extra crispy skin.   I disagree, however.  I have managed to get that same effect with plain old flour (not even any water), and just pan-frying.  The trick is to let the chicken sit a few minutes, in the flour to let it thicken up.   But you can do the egg/milk thing if you want to.   

And in general, the difference between original and extra crispy is—Extra crispy gets a double water bath/ flour roll.  

Lastly, the TYPE of chicken you select plays a huge part in the flavor and tenderness of your final result.   ALWAYS be sure to select a “fryer chicken”.  These chickens are specifically bred and raised (and butchered at the best age) for frying.   Their body parts are slightly smaller, but their meat is very tender and mild in flavor, and their skin is also more delicate and tender.   Other types of chickens may come out tough.  

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