Instant Pot Fried Chicken vs. My Amazing Breaking Things Talent
There are not many recipes for Instant Pot fried chicken, because pressure cookers are not designed to fry or crisp.
I actually don’t even know why I wanted to attempt fried chicken in my still-new Instant Pot, particularly since I’ve been running into some minor problems of late. Side note: even when the Instant Pot is bad, it seems to be really good. I’ve erred in my last few recipes, and the results were still excellent. [ETA: My friend and kitchen geek Neal Campbell noted that pressure frying via pressure cookers (sort of) is not only a thing, but sort of the thing with many well-known kinds of fried chicken. It’s complicated, but legitimately a thing.]
So Instant Pot fried chicken. I have to start by stipulating that I am extremely persnickety when it comes to chicken, and meat in general. A lot of people are, but I’m the opposite. That also reminds me of one of my favorite little memories involving my husband, and we’re getting into lasagne-and-childhood-winters-territory, but there you go.
He was insanely knowledgeable about food, cooking, food science, etc, and we’d often debate techniques or cooking rules with competing links. He took exception to a Serious Eats series called something like “the nasty bits” about offal and the like, because of American squeamishness. We debated that, too, the intent of it.
I love dirty cuts, dark meat, the fatty parts of steak, and chicken skin. And in 2007, we were in Atlantic City, walking on the boardwalk and discussing steak. (This is my winter childhood story.) And he was telling me an anecdote about it, and he said “you know that bit on prime rib that’s like an inch of just fat?” and I responded, “yes! I cut that off and eat it first.”
And he stopped and hug-lifted me really hard and said “and that’s one of the reasons I love you to tiny little bits.” And he did. He also liked dirty meat, but equally liked white meat and cleaner stuff because he was skilled enough not to dry it out. Finally, our favorite date night was a bucket of fried chicken. We even served it at our wedding.
So my Instant Pot fried chicken experiment was both bittersweet and troubled. In part, I hate engaging in new kitchen adventures without the only person I’ve ever really shared a kitchen with. I find “our knife” in the wrong place and I get upset. He’s not looming behind me to guide my arm. And he loved fried chicken.
The recipe I used was largely adapted from the encyclopedic resources at Amy + Jacky’s site. For tonight’s dinner, I made their Instant Pot fried chicken (recipe here) as well as their Instant Pot potato salad (recipe here). And one more thing to start, I’ve been having a problem with my pot not sealing. I’ve cleaned the crevices and re-seated the sealing ring and stood on my head during a waning moon, but something is amiss. Video at the end of this post of what it looks like when my Instant Pot isn’t sealing.
The Amy + Jacky recipe for potato salad involves pressure cooking 1″ cubes of russet potato and eggs, dressing it with rice vinegar and cooling it, dicing the eggs and other bits, assembling the dressing, combining, and chilling. Even with a steam leak, everything came out perfect. I followed it to the letter about 80%, but added some pickle juice (cornichon, actually) and eyeballed most flavor elements. My verdict is not only is it very good, it’s very flexible and impossible to fork up.
Likewise, their Instant Pot fried chicken recipe … there’s a lot to say about it, and it’s pretty freaking genius. You have to read it (link above) to really get it, but it involves steaming chicken thighs (dirty meat!) in a slightly flavored sauce. I didn’t have a steamer basket, I didn’t use the trivet, and it didn’t suffer. However, it didn’t stop leaking so I was convinced the chicken would dry out — it didn’t. I also added soy sauce and fish sauce to my cooking liquid, because I hate bland chicken. It worked for me.
Part 2 of the recipe involves toasting panko, double-dredging (first flour, then panko), and a quick crisping in the oven. I left my panko under the broiler and it literally caught fire. And I heard my husband’s voice telling me that leaving the kitchen is “how dinners get ruined.” He was right. But! I hacked my way around it.
While the pressure cooking was still going on, I crushed some Stacy’s Pita Chips with a ziploc bag and mason jar. I removed the thighs after the pressure released, dredged them in flour, dipped them in egg, coated them in … pita chips instead of blackened panko, and baked them for seven minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit.
At dinnertime, everything was not only edible, but tasty. The flavors permeated the chicken and — oh, I forgot — I made a dipping gravy (pictured) by deglazing the pan with some white wine and cooking it down. It was good, in my opinion, but taste is subjective.
A last caveat is that I don’t know if this recipe would work with “cleaner” cuts like the ever-popular and highly-overrated breast. I guess you could try it, if you’re into flavorless and dry meat. But thighs worked perfectly for this experiment.
In summation, Instant Pot fried chicken is way way way less fiddly than regular fried chicken. Amy + Jacky recipes have been 100% reliable for me, and their “umami” twists are bomb. Also, even the smallest things make me miss my husband, dammit. And here’s a video of Instant Pot sealing issue: