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The Unexpected Ingredient That Can Take Your Fried Chicken Up A Notch

National Fried Chicken Day is on July 6, and what better way to celebrate this day than to level up brining, dredging, and frying techniques. When it comes to a more flavorful chicken, this unexpected ingredient is an awesome addition.

Adding alcohol to a fried chicken brine creates a crispier crust, and as Serious Eats explains, it evaporates faster than water does, which helps limit gluten formation and dry the chicken's crust to make it light and crispy. Vodka is suitable for a neutral taste, while bourbon is added for more flavor.

Before dredging, pat the chicken dry with a paper towel to prevent the crust from falling off. Regarding coating, James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock uses all-purpose flour and cornmeal to add more texture to the crust, whereas Bon Appétit calls for a 50/50 mixture of AP flour and cornstarch to achieve a crunch.

The right oil temperature for frying is around 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and as food editor Andy Baraghani advises, remove the chicken from the pot once it's perfectly browned. Vegetable oil highlights the chicken’s flavor and has a high smoke point, while the combination of lard and butter imparts a smokier, heartier flavor.