Weekend Cooking: Chicken in a Box
23 Sep 2012

Weekend Cooking: Chicken in a Box

23 Sep 2012

This event actually started off as a simple gathering among friends to share a whole pile of uneaten chocolates.  At the same time I wanted to try out Emeril’s fried chicken recipe, and needed guinea pi– I mean, food tasters.  Then after some thought I figured I wouldn’t be right serving just fried chicken without any starch, so that’s how Choc Snacking Night became a full-blown dinner. :p


Based on Emeril’s recipe.

Updated on Oct 3, 2020, with new pictures.

Chicken in a Box


  • 1 litre full cream milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Essence
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
  • 2 (1.5 to 2 kg) skin-on chickens, cut into 10 to 12 pieces each, OR 20 to 24 mixed pieces of drumsticks, thighs and wings
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • Cooking oil, for frying


In a large bowl, combine the full cream milk with the lemon juice or vinegar, and stir to combine.  Let stand for at least five minutes.  

Add 1/4 cup of the Essence, the salt, sugar, and garlic. Stir to blend.

Immerse the chicken in the mixture and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and for up to 24 hours.  I usually do mine the night before the day I plan to fry the chickens.

Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, remaining 1/4 cup Essence, and the cayenne pepper in a large doubled brown paper bag or heavy plastic freezer bag and shake to blend.

Drop the chicken, a few pieces at a time, into the flour mixture and shake thoroughly to completely coat. Remove the chicken and shake off the excess flour. Repeat the coating process with the remaining chicken pieces.

Place the coated chicken on a large wire rack set over a sheet pan and let rest in the fridge until ready to fry, at least 20 minutes and for up to 1 hour.

2014-09-15 11.36.46

If using a deep fryer, heat enough oil to come up to ‘max’ level to 150 degrees C.  Fry the chicken in batches for 18 to 20 minutes. Usually the chicken is completely immersed so there’s no need to turn them.  Perfection!

If not using a deep fryer, in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat enough oil to come 2 inches up the sides to 150 degrees C over medium high heat.

Add the chicken in batches, skin side down, and fry undisturbed until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn and fry until golden brown on the second side, 8 to 10 minutes. For the chicken to turn out perfectly fried, it is very important to keep the oil temperature between 140 to 150 degrees C at all times. I highly recommend using a clip-on kitchen thermometer for this purpose.

Remove the chicken and drain on a wire rack or paper towels. Repeat for the remaining chicken.

Time-saving tip: If you have an air-fryer, you can use it to help save some time frying up this huge batch of chicken. Fry the chicken as per the above instructions for 10 minutes, turning the chicken midway, then transfer to your airfryer and finish frying at 150 degrees C for 8 to 10 minutes. While one batch is frying in the airfryer, you can already start the next batch in the pot or deep fryer, allowing you to finish the overall process in half the time you’d usually need.

Allow the chicken to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, arrange the chicken on a large serving dish, or place in a large waxed “take-out” box to transport.

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