Camp Comfort Foods #4–Fried Chicken

fried chicken
One of the most perfect camp comfort foods is fried chicken!

One of the greatest comfort foods of all time, fried chicken is a meal that many home cooks–and most campers–shy away from. They feel it’s too complicated to make, takes too much time, and is a dish best obtained by bringing it home in a big red-and-white cardboard container.

While this may indeed be the most convenient, fried chicken can be made at home and at the campsite without too much trouble. Just follow the directions, step-by-step.  All of the steps are easy, and you won’t believe what a hit it is at the campsite! The recipe and instructions below are for 10-12 pieces of chicken, enough for three or four people. (If you’re looking for our other Camping Comfort Food Recipes, click here.)

at home prep for camping.

Cut your chicken into ten pieces or buy 10-12 pieces from the store.  Budget-friendly legs and thighs with just a couple of breast pieces are great if you are doubling the recipe or want to save time and money. You can also purchase a whole chicken pre-cut in larger grocery stores.

In a large Ziploc bag, place the chicken pieces along with 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, rosemary, and one teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Seal the bag, mush it all around until the rub coats the chicken pieces evenly, and stick the chicken in the freezer until you go camping.

at the campsite.

Remove the frozen meat from the cooler and allow to thaw. In bowl, mix 1 cup yogurt and 2 eggs. Once well blended pour the mixture into the large Ziploc bag that contains your thawed chicken pieces. Mush around a bit to make sure all the chicken is coated in the yogurt-egg mix. Set aside. If chicken is thawed, place in cooler to prevent spoilage. You can do this 15 minutes to several hours before getting ready to fry it. The yogurt helps the chicken absorb the flavors of the rub and makes it more tender and juicy.

When you are ready to fry your chicken, heat an inch of vegetable oil in a cast-iron frying pan over a camp stove burner over high or medium-high heat. Two frying pans are recommended here, because you don’t want to crowd the chicken pieces, and this will help get it all cooked faster. Of course, it goes without saying that you need a 2-burner camps stove! This Coleman stove is the one we have and use; the electric starter makes things so much easier. Get a wire rack ready over a tray to lay the cooked chicken on. (A camping grill rack over aluminum foil simplifies things for camping.) While the oil heats up, do the following:

Get ready to coat and fry

On a flat surface near the camp stove (and if you have set up your camp kitchen the way we do, you’ll have a great table to work from) mix in a medium bowl 2 cups flour mixed with 1/4 cup cornstarch and 2 tablespoons each salt and pepper. You can mix this up at home or at the site. If at home, place in a lidded plastic container. Make it large enough to place a piece or two of chicken in. That way, all you have to do at the camp site is take off the lid and you’re good to go!

Check the oil in the frying pan. It should be hot enough to brown a small piece of bread (about 1″ square) in about 60 seconds. If it is ready, put your chicken in:

Take pieces of chicken from the yogurt-egg mix in the bag and shake off the excess, then place into the bowl of flour, covering each piece of chicken thoroughly. Then place the chicken in the hot fat carefully. Only do 3 or 4 pieces at a time; crowding the pan makes for soggy chicken. Fry for about 6-10 minutes or until golden brown, turn with tongs and repeat on the other side.  If you have an instant-read thermometer (and I always have one in the camping gear now and I love it), insert it in the meatiest part of the chicken to make sure it reads 165° F (to insure meat is cooked through) If it isn’t, lower heat and continue to cook until it does. Under-cooked chicken is something you don’t want to mess with! Remove to the wire rack and repeat until all the chicken is cooked.

Serve with our fabulous Grand Potato Salad and you’re good to go!

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