Being an inquisitive person, and adventurous in the kitchen, I wanted to settle the issue for myself: do I prefer frying chicken, or roasting chicken? Is my “House Chicken” roasted or fried? Here’s a comparison (note: these are standard recipes; you probably have several in your collection. I’m just going to talk about the results, the process, and my preferences. I’ve added links to good recipes for each, right in the title – remember that if you see red text, it’s clickable. Your comments are welcome!)
Soaked in brine, dipped in a standard 3-part flour, buttermilk, and flour, then fried in about 3 inches of hot oil – this is a classic in the kitchen, and deservedly so.
The outside is crispy, the interior perfectly cooked and very moist. This chicken is good hot or cold. The texture will suffer, though, once it’s been refrigerated, for it will never regain that crispy crunchy crust.
You can make as much, or as little, as you need. It doesn’t heat up the whole kitchen, because it’s made on the stovetop. It’s delicious. You can dress it up or down, serving it at a fancy dinner or a backyard picnic. You can vary the seasoning to make some interesting variations.
Mess. Hoo boy, does it mess up your stove, and anything else in a three-foot radius, with sticky, icky, oil residue. You’ll have about two quarts of chicken-flavored oil to dispose of, and that’s if you had only one pot going. If you had a bunch of chicken to fry, you might have even more. And good luck re-using that stuff. It’s a tricky process, because you need to have the oil at just the right temperature, to cook chicken that’s crispy and also perfectly cooked. Too hot, and it’ll burn; too cool, and you get greasy tough bird.
Brown and crispy on the outside, juicy and flavorful on the inside, it’s also dead simple to make: you need a pan, a chicken, salt & pepper.
In an old cookbook in my collection, roast chicken is ‘the bride’s best friend’ because it produces a fine meal with little effort. Season the bird, put it in a pan, and stick it in the oven. Easy.
It’s simple. It’s easy to vary the flavor with seasonings. You can add stuffing if you like it. Two chickens can roast at the same time – maybe 3 or 4, if your oven is large and you have the pan for it. It’s good hot or cold. You can roast a whole chicken or the chicken parts. Cleanup is simpler: there’s the roasting pan and some drippings, which you might even use in gravy or soup.
It takes time – about an hour, maybe more, depending on the size (and number) of the birds. (I’m talking about standard 3-4 lb birds here, let’s not mix teeny tiny Cornish game hens into this discussion!) It uses the oven, which might heat up the kitchen, which in 90-degree weather is just not okay.
My Verdict – Chicken: Fried or Roasted?
Roasted! From early fall to late spring, it’s one of my kitchen standbys. I love the sight (and smell) of a roasted bird, plump and bronzed. I use the pan drippings, along with the bones and any leftover skin, to make a full-flavored stock. I can easily cook two birds at the same time, giving me a head start on all sorts of meals using cooked chicken. I can spin a meal centered on roast chicken in all sorts of directions: country French, Greek, Asian, delicate, hearty, lean, sumptuous. It’s among the most versatile dishes I know.
And it’s dead easy. Never underestimate the big payoff for little effort. In my kitchen, roast wins, every time.
What about yours?