Monday, August 23, 2010

Filipino Fried Chicken - Whole (Pritong Manok)

Fried Chicken is among the easiest and probably the most popular chicken dishes of all-time. The worldwide proliferation of fast foods serving fried chicken as their principal meal or product is a firm testament to its continuously expanding appeal among the people of many nations and its phenomenal popularity all over the world.

Fried Chicken, also referred to as southern fried chicken in the US, is chicken pieces, usually from broiler chickens, which have been battered or even simply floured and then pan fried or deep fried until the outside is golden brown and crisp. The coating or breading adds a crunchy crust to the exterior while maintaining a tender and juicy interior.

Generally, in fried chicken, the meat is cut at the joints to come out with easily manageable serving sizes. However, there are some that prefer using bigger cuts like quarters, halves and sometimes, whole chicken. In any cut however, the bones and specially the skin are usually left intact. A crispy well seasoned skin, rendered of excess fat, is a true delight and a must feature of properly prepared fried chicken.

In the Philippines, there is a very simple method of preparing fried chicken with very limited ingredients composed only of salt, ground pepper and minced garlic. With the chicken already tasty on its own, just plain addition of select seasonings to bring out its natural taste could already provide a very delicious fried chicken. Even with just salt and ground pepper being added, fried chicken can be a real serious meal.

In this first fried chicken recipe that I will be sharing, I will start with a whole fried chicken in simple seasonings……..just enough to bring out the goodness and natural flavor of the chicken. But the trick here is how to make the chicken tender, juicy and with its full flavor kept inside.

To cook this whole fried chicken or “pritong manok”, we need about 2 pieces of medium-sized very fresh chicken, about 1.3 kilograms or about 2 lbs each. If you are asking why I need to prepare 2 chickens, it is because it will be served to an all-male group of 6, hungry individuals. :-) You can halve the ingredients though for just 1 whole fried chicken.

The few ingredients needed to season and fry the chickens are: enough vegetable oil, probably about 1 liter, 2 tsp iodized salt (or 2 tbsp rock salt) and 1 tsp ground pepper. You can also use some MSG if you like.

In a small saucer, combine the salt and ground pepper. Mix evenly. Add in MSG and mix it in as well if you are using.

Thoroughly drain the chickens. Pat the skin and inside cavity dry using paper towels. Liberally season the chicken with the salt-pepper mixture. Apply it inside the cavity, on all skin surfaces and even in between the skin and the meat if possible. Let stand for several minutes.

In a large steamer or large pan or wok with slotted base prop to enable steaming, arrange the chickens. Steam the meat for about 45 minutes or until just tender.

Take out the steamed meat and let to stand for several minutes until it is cool.

Meanwhile, prepare for frying. If you have enough oil and a really large pan, you can deep fry the whole chicken. That would be better. Otherwise, do as I did, pan-fry it with oil level at least over the half line of the meat.

Heat the vegetable oil on high until hot but not smoking. One at a time, fry the chicken over medium-high heat, one side first. After about 15 to 20 minutes, cautiously flip it over and continue frying the underside. Fry until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Be careful with the nasty oil splatter. It’s ugly and hurtful. I should know.

Continue cooking the other chicken. Drain the excess oil from the fried chicken using coriander and/or paper towel. Transfer in a large serving plate and serve whole or chop it up to desired sizes.

Serve warm with the unique Filipino banana catsup or the wonderful liver sauce or the ever-reliable “calamansi” and soy sauce mixture (“toyo-mansi”) dipping sauces. Alternately, tomato catsup or hot and spicy garlic sauce would also be good.

The crispy skin is utterly delicious. The meat is fully cooked through, tender but remains juicy. We ate the chickens with lots of steamed rice and two kinds of dipping sauces. It’s simply luscious! Enjoy! c“,)

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