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There is more than one way to fry a chicken for the Fourth of July. Here are four

4 Recipes
Crispy fried chicken is piled into a basket lined with a red and white checked napkin.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Southern deep-fried, air fried, Japanese-style chicken katsu and Korean-style chicken. Celebrate Independence Day and National Fried Chicken Day with these recipes.

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If you’ve followed Jenn Harris’ series, the Bucket List, you know where to purchase some of Los Angeles’ best fried chicken. If, however, you want to make your own for the Fourth of July — or for National Fried Chicken Day on July 6 — we have recipes. Dozens of them. Because, clearly, there is more than one way to fry a chicken.

Here are four basic approaches: 1. Deep fry bone-in parts that have been dredged in seasoned flour, “Southern” style. 2. Pan fry boneless skinless breasts that have been pounded thin and coated with breadcrumbs. 3. Twice fry boneless, skinless cubes dipped in a cornstarch-and-egg coating, Korean style. 4. Air fry, in this case, boneless, skinless strips of chicken breast meat coated with seasoned flour.

If you grew up in these United States, chances are when you hear the term “fried chicken” you think deep-fried. This is the method of the American South, perfected by enslaved African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Chicken is broken down into its parts, steeped in buttermilk, coated in seasoned flour and then slipped into a pan of hot oil — enough oil to either completely submerge the pieces or to halfway submerge them and then flip them over part way through the cooking. While the basic method dates back to the 18th century, finer points in the preparation continue to evolve, as evidenced by looking at the recipes in our L.A. Times database.

Early recipes gave instructions in broad brushstrokes, assuming a good deal of culinary knowledge and experience on the part of the cooks who would refer to them. Looking at some of our recipes in chronological order of when they were published, one can see in the progression, how trends in recipe writing and innovative techniques have made their way into the newer recipes.

This recipe for Crispy Fried Chicken is an amalgamation of the wisdom of many recipes that preceded it. It suggests using smaller birds (Cornish game hens) for quicker and more even cooking. It starts with an overnight dry-brining technique developed by the late chef Judy Rodgers of San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe. The method makes the chicken moist and juicy. Next is a buttermilk bath to add some tang. The seasoned flour also contains cornstarch and a few tablespoons of baking soda for added crispness. And for an even greater crunch factor, the pieces are double-dipped in the flour.

No doubt about it, this chicken fries up tender and juicy with a shatteringly crisp, thick coating. For guidance on developing your own recipe, check out Noelle Carter’s guide to making fried chicken at home.

Chicken Katzu is a Japanese version of what English-speaking Westerners might call a chicken cutlet — a boneless chicken breast coated with bread crumbs and pan-fried. It is known as schnitzel in Germany, escalope in France, cotoletta in Italy and by many other names in as many other cultures, each of which prepares cutlets in its own style. Some use more oil than others, some pound the breast thinner, others don’t pound the breast at all. This recipe calls for panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs which are drier, flakier and absorb less oil than regular bread crumbs). The panko-coated chicken breasts are fried in just a quarter-inch of oil. The result is crunchy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. If you like a crispy chicken cutlet or want to make a fried chicken sandwich, this is for you.

In culinary school I was taught that the key to truly crisp French fries is double frying — once at a lower temperature to cook the potato and then a second time at a higher temperature to crisp it. Yangnyeom Dak (Korean Fried Chicken) employs this same technique with chunks of boneless chicken that have been coated with a cornstarch-and-egg slurry. The first fry seals the coating and cooks the chicken. The second, much briefer fry, brings the coating to a shattering crispness. Depending on how thick a coating you prefer, you may want to adjust how much water you use in the slurry — for a thicker coating, use less water. The coating will even retain some crunch after being coated with a spicy seasoning sauce.

Finally, if you want that Southern fried chicken coating without the deep-frying, “Original Recipe” Fried Chicken Tenders use the same basic buttermilk bath and dredge-in-flour technique as Southern fried chicken (but only coats once) and then cooks, essentially, in a mini convection oven. The strips get a generous spray of cooking oil, but there is no pan full of oil to cook the cooked chicken — or to wash when the chicken is done. That said, the coating on this “fried” chicken is not crispy, nor was it intended to be, according to the recipe developer, L.A. Times cooking columnist Ben Mims. The texture is softer, more akin to what you get at KFC, after which this recipe was modeled. They are delicious with any number of dipping sauces.

Crispy fried chicken

This fried chicken has an extra-crisp, crackly crust from using cornstarch in place of some of the flour and adding a little baking powder to the coating mix.
Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 2 to 4

Chicken Katsu

This Japanese-Hawaiian dish combines crunchy breaded fried chicken cutlets with a tangy sauce.
Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Yangnyeom dak (Korean fried chicken)

One of the secrets of Korean fried chicken is to coat the chicken in cornstarch.
Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

'Original Recipe' Fried Chicken Tenders

Based on a certain fried chicken chain’s original recipe chicken, these air-fried tenders have a mix of eleven herbs and spices that stands up to the colonel's.
Time45 minutes, plus brining time
YieldsServes 2 to 4