Get Over the Fear of Frying: Start with Chicken

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Perhaps it's my many years as a vegetarian or my general aversion to the way fried food makes the house smell that have kept me from making fried chicken at home. But really, if I'm honest with myself, the truth of the matter is: I have no clue what I'm doing. 

Sure, I've baked and pan-fried dozens (maybe hundreds) of chicken breasts and thighs. I've roasted a chicken, turning leftovers into chicken salad, taco salad, sandwiches and creamy pastas. But fried chicken I have not yet conquered, which is why I was particularly interested in Julia Moskin's piece on frying confidently in The New York Times last week. 

Of people like me, the fearful friers, Moskin write: "I have sympathy for these people. They have been traumatized by grease fires, flour-crusted kitchen counters and crushed hopes." She insists that, with a few tips and tricks (and less stress and worry), in reality it's a kitchen task we can all take on.  

Two tips that immediately set me at ease were the recommendation of using a cast-iron pan — letting the drive or need to own a deep-fat fryer go. Traditionally, a lot of fried chicken was done in these pans and so many home cooks own them today that, Moskin says, the cooking equipment shouldn't be what holds us back. 

Second: a splatter screen! I remember I owned a splatter screen in college when I lived with a very messy roommate who cooked a lot of bacon. But that's been lost in one of many moves somewhere along the way. However, Moskin's suggestion that this will relieve any worry of mess or grease on the stove has inspired me to seek one out. And take a stab at frying a chicken for the very first time.

→ For More Fried Chicken Wisdom: I Believe I Can Fry by Julia Moskin for The New York Times

When did you first learn to fry chicken (or other foods!) and what got you over that initial fear of frying?

(Images: The Bitten Word licensed under Creative Commons)