We moved to Vancouver from Edmonton when I was eight years old. My mom was tired of the endless snowy winters and mosquito-filled summers. I didn’t want to move—my whole life was in Edmonton. My best friend and I spent the first part of the summer before I left practicing letter writing. I was worried I wouldn’t have any friends. My parents tried to convince us kids that we’d make lots of new friends in school—at the very least we’d have our cousins.
The summer we moved was scorching hot but there weren’t any mosquitos. My mom was right about that one. She was also right about the enthusiasm of our cousins. One of them excitedly told me that I would love living in Vancouver because of the fried chicken. Fried chicken seemed like a strange thing to be advocating for a city…but, we were eight.
Me: I’ve had fried chicken before. What’s so special about it here?
Cousin: It’s the best at church. It’s soooooooo good!
At the mention of church I was confused. I’d never stepped foot in a church as as far I knew, neither had my parents. But if they made good chicken, why not? My cousin kept pestering her mom to take us to church and one weekend she did. Boy was I surprised when we pulled into a parking lot with a teal, and orange sign that read “Church’s Chicken” A big “AH HA!” moment happened: my cousin wasn’t talking about church, she was talking about Church’s Chicken, a fried chicken chain that we didn’t have in Edmonton.
I wasn’t that impressed by Church’s chicken at eight years old, but I have to admit that now, as an adult, its definitely one of my guilty pleasures. One that Mike and I indulge in way too often. Church’s chicken skin is always crispy and the meat is always moist. And it’s so easy. A little too easy.
Whenever something’s a little too easy I like to make it hard for myself. So, the last time the craving hit, instead of heading to our favourite branch of Church’s chicken I decided to make a fried chicken at home. I’ve fried plenty of chickens before but they’ve never been as good as Church’s.
This time around I decided to go with a Bon Appétit recipe. They recommended frying in a cast iron skillet, something I’ve never done before. Usually when I deep fry I like to do it in a high-sided pot, just to keep splattering to a minimum. There was definitely a lot more splattering than I’m used to but it was worth it. The chicken was extremely juicy and the skin was shatteringly crisp. Was it as good as Church’s Chicken? I’d have to say no. I think the recipe needed a touch more seasoning, but I definitely wasn’t complaining and neither was Mike. We polished off all eight pieces in one go.
Skillet-Fried Chicken Recipe from bonappetit.com
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
8 pieces chicken (I used drumsticks)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
oil for frying (I used grapeseed)
Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 tablespoon salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon pepper in bowl.
Pour oil into a 10″–12″ cast-iron skillet to a depth of 3/4″. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.
Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown, about 12 minutes for legs. Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!