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James Beard rhapsodized about cold fried chicken, and I agree with him: not as good as fresh, but still the best thing at the picnic. Of course, if you pull the chicken out of the fryer, encase it in tupperware, and refrigerate it overnight, you'll end up with a soggy mess. Beard suggests allowing the chicken to cool at room temperature on a wire grille before refrigerating, to keep it from getting soggy.

I can confirm that this works decently well at preventing sogginess, but after refrigerating overnight, the coating is at best firm, nowhere near as crispy as it originally was. (This makes sense, of course: osmosis does not want you to have a dry coating on a moist drumstick.) How can I defy the laws of nature to achieve a durably crispy coating?

  • Unfortunately I don't think you can overcome the fact the internal chicken is moist and that moisture will cause the coating to become soggy over time. You could reheat it under a broiler which should dry the coating and make it crispy again, but this is obviously not a solution to your problem. – seg Jan 17 at 14:54
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There’s a food processing trick, where producers use dextrin to keep the coating crisp for hours. You simply replace some of the flour (around 20%) in your recipe with dextrin and you’re good to go.

As the other answer mentions, multiple layers also helps creating a thick barrier to slow down moisture seeping into the coating. You can use dextrin in both layers.

Once you’ve adapted your recipe to use dextrin, frying followed by rapid cooling should give you a good result.

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I am skeptical, but I have not tried this recipe. The chef, Justin Wu, claims that double dredging in a combination of wheat and rice flours allows him to keep his fried chicken crisp, even after refrigeration. It is intended to be served cold. He soaks in spiced buttermilk, then dredges in flour. The chicken is then refrigerated for an hour. Before frying, it is dipped in buttermilk again, and dredged in a rice flour mixture. Finally the chicken is fried, cooled, and refrigerated. Perhaps if one of us gives this a try, we can report the results in a comment here.

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    Hey, I'll take any excuse to make fried chicken :-) – Sneftel Jan 17 at 14:51
  • @Sneftel you inspired me to try the recipe I linked. We did not enjoy the super thick coating, It was crunchy, and retained some crunch after refrigeration. It was flavorful, but for us the coating to chicken ratio was off...in favor of the coating. Also, the super-thick coating meant that the skin underneath was left unrendered and rubbery. So, I'll be voting zetaprime's answer up. Seems like a better way to go...but I do know that some people enjoy a lot of coating.... – moscafj Jan 18 at 14:08
  • ...so, the double coating technique can get you there, as long as you like a lot of coating on your fried chicken. – moscafj Jan 18 at 14:34
  • My experience was similar. I additionally noted that the thick coating tended to separate from the meat... in fact, I suspect one reason for the durability of the crispiness (or at least crunchiness) was the air gap between the meat and the coating. A qualified success. – Sneftel Jan 21 at 10:18

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