One of my husband's guilty pleasures is that red box of Banquet fried chicken you can find in the freezer section of many grocery stores. Occasionally we'll grab a box when we can get it on sale but, since I started making our own version of easy Freezer Fried Chicken, we haven't felt the need. For less than $6 a meal (less if you can find whole chickens cheaper than I can which is usually 2 birds for $10) you can stock your freezer with a quick and easy meal.
Easy freezer fried chicken
I like "lazy" freezer cooking - things that don't take much time. Well, this freezer fried chicken recipe has lots of work up front, but it is so worth the time saved later on. Once you have bags of freezer fried chicken packed away the only tough job is turning on the oven (well, you might want to make a side dish or two)!
So let's get started! You'll need:
whole chickens 3-4 pounds each - at least 3 but 6 is better (more work but you'll have 6 meals in the freezer!)
salt and pepper
oil for frying
Ingredient amounts will depend on how many batches of freezer fried chicken you decide to make - the printable recipe at the bottom will have enough dry mix to coat 3 chickens so double if you're planning to prepare 6 chickens. I usually try to do 6 chickens at once - more work but more easy meals ready to go when I don't have much time to spend in the kitchen.
The first step is to get the chickens cut up and ready to cook.
At first, it takes a bit of time to butcher the birds for this freezer fried chicken, but once you're used to doing this step it goes fairly quickly. Here's a quick tutorial on cutting up a whole chicken. I like to use whole chickens because we all have our favorite cuts so everyone gets what they want this way.
If you're using whole chickens, you'll have 8 pieces from each chicken when you're finished (2 breast pieces each cut in half and the 2 legs cut in half). You could add the wings as well but I like to collect all the wings and save them for another meal (even more savings!). And don't toss the backbones and wingtips. Throw those in a pot covered with water and some salt & pepper and any leftover vegetable bits that are getting limp in your crisper. Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for 1 hour. Strain and put in jars in the freezer - homemade stock (more savings! Cha-ching!).
Okay, chickens are cut up and ready to go. Let's move on to the breading.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, cornmeal, and seasonings. Whisk it up and set it aside. Now we're ready for get those birds ready to fry!
While you're getting the chicken breaded get a 12-inch nonstick skillet on the stove and add about an inch of oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and let the oil come up to temp - about 375.
While the oil is heating, get the chicken ready to fry.
You'll need 3 shallow containers. In one crack a few eggs and add some water and give it a whisk with a fork. In the second container add a heaping cup of the breading mixture (don't dump it all in! You'll have leftover flour mixture. Save the extra breading for pork chops or fish). Take a piece of chicken and dip in the egg before rolling in the flour mixture. Set it aside in the third container while you coat more pieces.
When the oil is hot and you have 7 or 8 pieces of chicken breaded and ready to go, gently add them to the pan, being careful not to crowd them. Fry about 3-5 minutes, until the chicken is golden and crispy. Flip and cook the other side for 3-5 minutes before removing the pieces to a cookie rack set over a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Once all the chicken is fried and cooled, divide up between labeled freezer bags. Let cool completely before sealing the bags and putting them in the freezer, laying the bags flat so the pieces don't freeze in one big lump. Now the hard work is done - you have a stash of freezer fried chicken ready for quick weeknight dinners!
When you're ready to eat - grab a bag of freezer fried chicken from the freezer and preheat your oven to 350. Put the frozen pieces of chicken on a pan (you could also thaw the chicken, I just never think that far ahead!) and bake for 1 hour (30 minutes if the chicken is thawed). Make a side-dish or two and you're set!
Freezer Fried Chicken Recipe
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried or ground sage
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
3 chickens, 3-4 pounds each
oil for frying
Cut the chicken into pieces. After setting aside the wings you should have 8 pieces for frying. (2 legs cut in half and 2 breasts cut in half.)
Combine the flour, cornstarch, cornmeal, salt, and remaining seasonings in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk thoroughly.
In a shallow dish, whisk the two eggs and water. Put 1 heaping cup of breading mixture in another shallow dish.
While working on chicken bring oil up to temperature - in a 12-inch nonstick skillet heat 1 inch of oil over medium-high heat to 375 degrees.
Dip the chicken in the egg mixture before rolling the breading. Set aside and continue coating the remaining pieces.
When oil is hot, add 6-8 pieces of chicken, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook 3-5 minutes, until chicken is golden brown. Turn and cook the other side for another 3-5 minutes.
Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack set over a paper towel-lined cookie sheet.
Cook remaining chicken the same way.
Once all the chicken has cooled, place 8 pieces in labeled freezer bags. Cool completely before sealing the bags and placing them flat in the freezer.
[b]To cook from frozen:[/b] Preheat oven to 350. While oven is heating place chicken pieces on a baking pan. Bake for 1 hour or until juices run clear.
[b]To cook thawed:[/b] Preheat oven to 350. While oven is heating place thawed chicken pieces on a baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until juices run clear.
This recipe is easily doubled - prepare 6 chickens for the freezer instead of 3!