Here, "un-fried" really means flash fried. Flash frying is a high-heat deep-frying technique used to rapidly brown small pieces of quickcooking food such as tiny calamari or small shrimp to avoid overcooking them before the crust browns. Flash flying requires an oil temperature of at least 400°—which means you have to use an oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed oil. By poaching the chicken first and then flash frying it, I was able to eliminate 20 grams of fat and at least 250 calories from traditional fried chicken. Because the chicken is already cooked, it only has to spend enough time in the hot oil to brown the crust, which means it absorbs less oil.
Servings: Serves 4
Ingredients 3 cups low-fat , low-sodium chicken brothSalt4 skinless , bone-in chicken thighs2 quarts grapeseed oil1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour1 Tbsp. sweet paprika1 1/2 tsp. celery salt1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper1 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper2 cups low-fat buttermilk
Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepot over high heat, seasoning it generously with salt. Add the chicken thighs to the pan and bring the broth to a simmer. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until the chicken is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove the thighs from the liquid, pat them dry and set them aside on a platter; cover it with foil to keep them warm.
While the chicken is cooking, pour the grapeseed oil into a large pot with high sides, and bring it to 400° over high heat. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet or over several layers of paper towels (for draining the chicken). In a shallow dish, combine the flour with the paprika, celery salt, black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and the cayenne. Use a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
Combine the warm chicken thighs with the buttermilk in a large bowl, coating them completely. Dredge the thighs in the seasoned flour. Then dip the thighs in the buttermilk and dredge them in the seasoned flour once more, to double-coat the chicken. Shake off any excess flour.
Fry the chicken, 2 pieces at a time, in the hot oil until deep golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain on the wire rack, and serve immediately.
Before: 30g fat, 549 calories
After: 10.9g fat, 204 calories
20g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 58mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 1,169mg sodium