I prepare fried chicken (imitating broasted chicken) at home. Normally to make it tender and juicy I will add baking soda (gives unpleasant flavor) or glutamate, but it doesn't make it that tender. How do I make it as tender and juicy as broasted chicken in restaurants?
The correct answer to any question following the template of "how do I get (some meat) to come out tender when I (some cooking method) it?" is: don't overcook it.
It's seriously not rocket science. Cooking meat dries it out as moisture evaporates.
The second, and perhaps dominant factor is that in overcooked meat—anything above about 165 F / 74 C, all of the proteins in the meat are fully coagulated. They have squeezed into tight little balls, squeezing out liquid, and taking on a rubbery texture. This effect cannot be reversed.
Overcooked meat is too dry, which gives it a tough and sinewy texture.
For other tips on making fried chicken more like what you've had in restaurants (very few of which are "broasting" it), see:
Marinading the chicken before battering and frying has worked well for me. Some oil, lemon juice and spices is usually sufficient, but you can definitely get fancier and this has the added bonus of imparting flavor to the meat itself.
Another option, which I got from a Nigella Lawson recipe (it used to be online at cookstr.com but I can't find it anymore), is to marinade in whole milk for several hours, then boil the chicken in that milk (with some water for volume) until cooked through, and only then batter and fry the chicken. This sounds like it would fall into the overcooking trap, but it actually comes out very juicy and tender.
Finally, make sure you use a lot of very hot oil. A deep fryer is the best option. It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but lots of hot oil will actually help keep the chicken from coming out oily. Too little, or too cool, and the chicken seems to absorb the oil and taste unpleasantly greasy.
I have found that putting the chicken in a brine (essentially like marinating) for up to a day ahead of time will infuse it with a lot of additional moisture. But use a simple brine like iced tea with salt (salty like the sea) or water. You can definitely use buttermilk or other liquids as well, but I've had the best luck with salty, watery brines.
Technically, Aaronut is correct on the overcooking. But beyond that, this is a great technique for increasing the tenderness.
My grandma had a Cajun style restaurant in Lousiana.
Her fried chicken recipe entailed brining the chicken for one night, then marinating it in buttermilk the next night.
Then a 'double dredge' with seasoned flour alternating with mayonnaise & beaten egg and into the boiling pot of lard on her enormous Wolf range . Tender, moist, juicy & perfectly seasoned- every time.
I believe the more 'commercial' fried chicken restaurants inject brine, broth & msg into their birds.
I have an answer for this question which is a solution I have worked on for some time now.
Here are the steps:
Brine chicken for 4 hours. Brine is 8 cups water, 1 tablespoon msg/accent, 1/4 cup table salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. This is 4 5 fillets of chicken breast. Brining will make the fillets plump and protect your meat from the hot oil.
Mix spices for breading.
Spices: 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper, 1 teaspoon coriander ground, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cayene pepper/chilli flakes.
Herbs: 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon of powdered sage
Additives/extras: 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon msg/accent.
Feel welcome to change up spice mix to suit preference. Extra chilli for a nice hot coating. Less or more salt to personal preference. Msg will enhance the taste of the spices. Hence my quantities are not tablespoons. You can drop the msg, but will not get the same aftertaste and intensity.
Add spices to 3 cups cake/low protein flour, 1 cup cornflour. Mix well. Let sit.
Take chicken from brine and wash excess salt off in water. Let rest for 1/2 hour.
Add chicken to 3 cups milk and 1 pre beaten egg.
Let chicken soak it up for 15 mins or so.
Take out fillets, cut them in half and let drip. Then roll and press into flour/spice mixture.
I use 6 quart pressure fryer. The brine allows the chicken to retain moisture.
Heat oil to 180c. Add pieces of chicken. Let brown with lid off for around a minute or inspect. You want a nice brown colour. Not burnt. Dont let the coating go dark.
Once you have browned chicken, slam the pressure cooker lid on and cook for 6 1/2 - 7 minutes. Once pressure cooker is whistling, lower heat to medium.
Vent excess steam from cooker take off heat and prop the safety valve to allow steam to escape. Once you get the lid off, remove chicken and let rest on a raised grid seated on an oven dish.
Put in oven at around 70 degrees to let drip. 20 mins later = fried goodness.
I must stress that you use an approved pressure fryer for this method. And make sure you keep the seals nice and plump and bendy. This can be dangerous if you are not very careful and do some research. I personally use a 6 quart chicken bucket everwear pressure fryer. Cost me $40 on ebay, never been used.
Do this right and you will get a tasty light brown skin and the juiciest chicken inside, steaming as you cut it open.
I like to add a garlic sauce made of yogurt, salt, diced cucumber and garlic. Cut up fillets and put inside a wrap with salad.
You won't get greasy chicken this way. It will be steaming fried goodness.
Options/tricks to enhance: Make your spice mix the day before and let it blend well. A nice powder mixed will enhance the aroma and intensity.
Add sage to the brine. About a teaspoon or two.
This article changed my poultry game: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/11/the-food-lab-the-truth-about-brining-turkey-thanksgiving.html
TLDR: Dry brining leads to more flavorful chicken as wet brining will "flush" flavor from the meat as liquid enters then exits the meat.
Season and flash fry in butter or (olive) oil.
"Flash fry" means cook for a couple of minutes at med-high heat in a frying pan. This will "seal" the meat, which will help lock in the moisture during the cooking process. Do this before adding all your finger lickin' spices and batter.
"Sealing" applies to most meats, not just chicken. If you're going to roast beef / pork etc which have longer cooking times, wrap them in foil AFTER sealing them, but before you roast them.