Shatteringly crisp, flavorful Pioneer Fried Chicken that tastes so nostalgic you will feel like you’ve gone back in time! Easy to make, only takes five minutes to make the wet batter and straight into the fryer! Serve with corn on the cob and your favorite cole slaw to make this meal complete!
Are you by any chance a kid of the 80s? Are you from Southern California? Do you remember Saved By The Bell? Ok ok, the last one doesn’t really apply, but this Pioneer Fried Chicken is legendary and going the way of Latin since the chain began closing shops years ago. Currently there are only a couple of Pioneer Chickens left and those that still exist haven’t been updated in 20 years.
When I was pregnant with our oldest we were living in DC and I got the worst craving for this chicken. I scoured the internet and found absolutely NO recipes. A lot of people were talking about how much they missed Pioneer Chicken and how it was a food memory they treasured, but no one could decode the dish in a way that would satisfy us all. We grew up with this chicken, we all agreed KFC should’ve gone the way of the dinosaurs instead of Pioneer Chicken, yet here we were with two outdated fledgling locations left.
To top it off I was 3300 miles away from the closest one! So I started playing with recipes. It is hard to decode a recipe for something you can’t currently taste, so I tried and failed.
Recently I had another craving for it when I had finished making Ad Hoc’s Fried Chicken by Thomas Keller (wow talk about low and high brow huh?) and I figured since it had been years since my last attempt, I could possibly find something.
JACKPOT. In the strangest of places, some guy had made a youtube video of the recipe where he mixes and fries it with no audio and no recipe to copy. Old school pencil and paper writing it down as I watched, I could tell he was on to something when I saw that wet batter come together. Sure enough when it came out of the oil it was gorgeous! The perfect orange brown tinted shade, with a smooth surface. It may not sound exciting to you if you aren’t familiar with Pioneer Chicken, but if you know what I am talking about here you are probably salivating as you read this.
I also need to take a minute and go completely off on a tangent. I’m having a fit of nostalgia today and it made me think about my childhood. A childhood full of Mario and all the wonder of Nintendo. So today as I was browsing the internet I came across a back to school list someone made (why a video game is on that list is lost on me, but hey to each their own). It also made me think of this website Games Like Zone my husband showed me that tells you other games you would like based on the one game you do like. I’m just waiting on the list for my only other nostalgic game I loved, Zelda!
My friends think it is pretty funny when I talk about video games but I think every one of us has memories of being a kid and playing them! I still remember holding the antenna on the television for my brother to play the original Mario! Okay enough of my kid memories, lets get back to some fried chicken…ok wait one more memory…do any of you remember those pencil cases with hidden compartments? Ok, ok I am really done now…
Mix all the dry ingredients except for the reserved 1/4 cup cornstarch. Add the water and whisk. Put 1/4 cup of cornstarch in shallow pan and coat chicken with it. Dip the chicken that has been coated in cornstarch into the wet batter until completely coated. Let drip for a couple of seconds. Fry in 350 degree peanut or canola oil. for 8-10 minutes until cooked through in small batches. Drain on metal rack, not paper towels, that would make it soggy.
- 1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 cup cornstarch, ¼ cup reserved for coating
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1½ tablespoon onion powder
- 1¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon celery salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- add ¾ cup of water
- 3 cups peanut or canola oil
- Mix all the dry ingredients except for the reserved ¼ cup cornstarch.
- Add the water and whisk.
- Put ¼ cup of cornstarch in shallow pan and coat chicken with it.
- Dip the chicken that has been coated in cornstarch into the wet batter until completely coated.
- Let drip for a couple of seconds and gently lower into pot of oil.
- Fry in 350 degree peanut or canola oil. for 8-10 minutes until cooked through in small batches.
- Drain on metal rack, not paper towels, that would make it soggy.