This recipe is a variation of a fried shrimp recipe from the Culinary Institute’s book, The Professional Chef©. I tried it and it is really good, and I edited it for Food Nirvana to include missing instructions to help less experienced cooks. The corresponding shrimp recipe is also in Food Nirvana under Seafood.
The batter in this recipe puffs out somewhat around the chicken during frying due to the presence of eggs in the batter. I have avoided the use of baking powder used with the shrimp recipe to limit the amount of puffing during frying, as that elimination creates a better batter for frying chicken.
The best parts of this recipe are that the batter is crisp and it tastes really good and the fried chicken is not in any way oily or greasy. The batter seals instantly on immersion into hot cooking oil and that keeps out the cooking oil. Beyond that, any leftovers can later be put into hot cooking oil or simply a 300 degrees F oven to reheat them and they come out just fine, not oily.
The batter quantity produced from the recipe below is more than sufficient for three to four pounds of chicken so you may want to halve the batter ingredients. Note that I have included two optional ingredients, crushed cornflakes and chipotle powder. The chipotle powder gives a bit of "zing" to the batter. The cornflakes will provide a somewhat crunchy version of the fried chicken. Note also that I have not yet tried using the crushed cornflakes so you might want to experiment by frying only half of the chicken using crushed cornflakes and the other half without them. You can then decide which version you prefer.
1 or 2 lbs. of Chicken drumsticks or thighs or wings, or breast meat deboned and cut into 3/4" thick pieces
2 extra large eggs
12 oz. of beer
6 ounces of bread flour (I used all purpose flour and it worked fine.)
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger root (Or pre-minced ginger in a jar, available at Asian markets.)
1 cup (or more) of Cornstarch for dredging
3/4 tsp. of chipotle powder (optional)
2 cups of crushed cornflakes (optional)
2 quarts of soybean oil for frying
A frying or candy thermometer
Wash and partially pat dry the chicken pieces with paper towels. If you are using chicken breast meat then cut the breast halves into pieces about 3/4" thick and as long or wide as you want. That will allow for rapid frying with no concern about adequate cooking or darkened batter from extended frying time. Put the raw chicken pieces on a plate that has a paper towel on it. The chicken pieces should not be laying in water as they should be moist before dredging but not wet.
Pre-warm your oven to 200º F. Put a paper towel covered china plate or wide shallow bowl/serving dish into the oven to later hold the fried chicken and to help keep the pieces warm after they are served.
Put the soybean oil into a one to two gallon pot and heat it to 360º F on medium heat while you are preparing the batter. If necessary you can adjust the heat to high to get to the right temperature when you are ready to start frying, but keep an eye on the temperature so that it does not exceed 360º F. (Note that the oil can be reused multiple times in the future, until it starts to darken. It should be poured into a separate sealable container through a sieve after it has cooled. Discard everything except the clear oil, and that includes the last part of the oil from the bottom of the pot that has accumulated various kinds of gunk in it from the frying process.)
Whisk the eggs well in a two quart bowl. Add the ginger and then the beer slowly while whisking gently. It will foam a lot.
Add all the dry ingredients except the cornstarch and cornflakes (if you used cornflakes) together with the egg and beer mixture gradually and mix gently until the batter is smooth. Do not mix longer than necessary. Moisture variations in different flours may create the need to adjust consistency. The batter should not be thick and it should not be runny. You will know you have the right consistency when a piece of dredged chicken coated with the batter holds a coating thickness of no more than 1/16th of an inch. Less is better as the batter will puff up slightly during frying. You can adjust the consistency if required with water if it is too thick or with flour if it is too thin. The basic idea is that you want the batter to be entirely crisp at the end of the frying and if it is too thick the outside will be crisp but the inside of the batter will be doughy.
If you decide to use the crushed cornflakes then put the cornflakes into a one quart Ziploc® freezer bag and crush them gently using a rolling pin. Then pour the crushed cornflakes into a wide shallow bowl.
Dredge each piece of chicken in a bowl of cornstarch, shake off the excess, and dip the chicken piece into the batter using tongs, making sure to coat it completely. Extract the coated piece with the tongs, let the excess batter drip off for a few seconds and then roll it lightly on the crushed cornflakes (if you used them) and then immerse the coated chicken piece directly into the heated oil that is at a temperature of 360º F. In other words, you do each piece one at a time adding each piece to the oil until you have about six pieces in the oil. You will need to clean the tongs after immersing the last piece in a given batch to remove excess batter.
Fry each piece for eight to twelve minutes, using the longer frying time for the drumsticks and thighs, turning each piece over a few times, until any given piece is medium gold in color. Then extract that piece with tongs and let the hot oil drain from it for a few seconds and then place it on a paper towel. Place each completed batch into a 200º F warming oven on a plate or in a bowl to maintain a desirable eating temperature while other batches are being fried. Note also that time spent in the warm holding oven will assist in being sure the larger pieces of chicken are cooked all the way through. Be sure the oil temperature is monitored and adjusted as necessary so that it is at 360º F when each batch is fried.
Serve the chicken immediately. It is delicious!
If you want to eat the fried chicken pieces using a dipping sauce then you might make the dipping sauce from the sauce recipe provided at the end of the beer batter fried shrimp recipe. You might also look for Chinese and other dipping sauce recipes on the Internet. Duck sauce available by the quart in supermarkets is a very nice dipping sauce. I have even used Jamaican Green Sauce and it is delicious on the fried chicken.