4.23.2015

Cajun-Style Gluten-Free DELICIOUS Southern Fried Chicken

There I stood in the kitchen staring at a bowl of highly seasoned chicken legs and thighs wondering what I was gonna do with them.  As I looked around for inspiration I spied in the cabinet a box of "Zatarain's Wonderful Fish-Fri".  Since it was sitting next to a jug of vegetable oil, I dragged them both out of the cabinet, a plan already in mind.  Every once in awhile I like treating my beloved "Celiac" to some good ol' traditional Cajun southern fried  chicken.  Lucky for Peggy, us Cajuns have been frying stuff in cornflour and cornmeal forever.  The fine folks at Zatarain's have been making a naturally gluten free fish fry for like 150 years or so.  Many country folks use it to fry everything.
  As the oil heated in one of our black iron pots, I beat up 3 eggs in a bowl with a splash of milk and a squirt of yellow mustard.  The chicken got drenched in this egg wash, then dropped into a bag of the Zatarain's mixed with some of our own Cajun spice, to coat it.  As the oil began to heat, I threw in a raw onion ring. Some folks use a potato wedge. We do that to judge how hot the oil is, so we know when it's ready to put the chicken in. When the onion is frying nicely, the grease it hot enough.
   I fried a couple of batches of chicken, keeping them at a steady fry. 
I fry the chicken for about 10 minutes then flip for another 10 minutes; depends on whether it's a thicker piece, like a breast piece or a drumstick.  All ya gotta do is watch the chicken fryin'; if it fries slower than what is shown here, turn the fire up.  If it fries much faster or begins to smoke, turn the fire down or even off 'til it slows down a little.  As long as it is bubbling kinda hard, but not burning, it will not be greasy.  If it just sits there slowly warming, it will be greasy, that's why I use the onion to tell when the oil is at a good frying temp.  Thicker things like chicken breast and some thick fish fillets need to fry longer, to make sure it's cooked in the center.  A thicker piece therefore, needs to fry at a lower temperature so the outside doesn't burn before the inside is fully cooked.
One thing I need to emphasize...do NOT pack the pan with too many pieces at a time because if you do, it will lower the temperature of the oil, and the chicken won't cook as quickly, and when it does finally, it will be soggy with oil and not be crispy...which is what ya want. 
 Thin things like shellfish or thin cut fish can fry at much hotter temp. for only a few minutes, but that's another post.  I do not use a thermometer when frying chicken, but I can tell you that it was fried at 325 to 350 F  (the onion told me so)  If it had dropped below 300 for a few minutes, the chicken would have been greasy,  and it wasn't, so it didn't.  300F is the magic number at which steam escapes from the meat fast enough to keep the oil out. 
When the chicken was done we took it out and parked it in a warm 200 degree oven for a few minutes.
We always put fried food on brown paper bags.  Do not use paper towels, as they trap moisture and take the crunch out of what you just took the trouble to fry to a crispy, crunchy goodness.
Peggy took the leftover egg wash, dumped in the unused spicy cornflour, added a pinch of baking powder and a splash more milk and made a batter in which we dipped onion rings that our friend Sam had given us from his garden. (The onions, not the rings...but you already knew that) That's where my "test onion" came from.  They fried up in a short few minutes and were wonderful! We like them best when they retain a lil crunch, and with our Cajun spices, oh Mommy!
 The finished product, coupled with some 'smothered' yellow squash from last year's garden and a few fresh things from the yard this year, it was a feast indeed.
Whether you are gluten free or not, you really should try frying chicken in "Zatarain's Wonderful Fish-Fri"; it truly is wonderful.  This is one thing the whole family can enjoy and will ask for again.
What we like about doing it ourselves, is that it's not briny salty and overly MSG'd like ya get at fast food chicken places. This way you can make it as salty as ya like.
Peggy loves the experience of sitting down to a big meal with friends and being able to eat anything with no worries about getting 'glutened' and sick, and have everyone else not even know that what they are eating is a "special" gluten free meal.  At the risk of bragging, my fried chicken is often requested and very popular with my friends I don't even tell them it's gluten free; I just tell 'em its fried in Zatairan's Wonderful Fish-Fri.
  Now, if all this wasn't good enough, after it was already all on the plate and the production shut down, my now spoiled 'Celiac' had the audacity to ask , "Where's the fried pickles?"
 
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