The first step in Seattle chef Eric Johnson’s incredibly moist, incredibly crisp fried chicken isn’t a spice rub or batter, but rather a whole-bird simmer in an aromatic, umami-rich broth. This allows the fat beneath the skin to render as the meat gently cooks. Once dried and fried, the chicken skin becomes lacquered and shatteringly crisp. Find cassia bark (a type of Chinese cinnamon) and maltose (a sweet, malty syrup) at Asian grocery stores.
Slideshow:More Fried Chicken Recipes
2 ounces yellow Chinese rock sugar (about 1 [2-inch] cube)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 (3-pound) whole chicken
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon maltose
Grapeseed oil, for frying
1/4 cup diagonally sliced scallions
2 tablespoons fried garlic
2 tablespoons fried shallots
1 English cucumber, thinly diagonally sliced
Ginger-Lime Hot Sauce (see Note)
Chicken-Fat Rice (see Note)
How to Make It
Place shiitakes in a stockpot. Cook over medium, stirring often, until fragrant and darkened in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer shiitakes to a plate. Add star anise and cassia bark to pot; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 3 quarts water, soy sauce, wine, smashed garlic, dried ginger, thick soy sauce, smashed ginger, sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and shiitakes. Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Cook, uncovered, until aromatics infuse broth, about 30 minutes.
Carefully submerge chicken in stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a rolling boil. Remove pot from heat, and let stand, uncovered, until internal temperature of chicken reaches 150°F, 35 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine vinegar and maltose in a small saucepan. Cook over medium, whisking occasionally, until maltose is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Remove chicken from stock and place on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Pour stock through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Reserve stock. Brush warm chicken with vinegar-maltose glaze 3 times, drying 5 minutes between each addition. Discard leftover glaze. Chill chicken on rack, uncovered, 8 hours or overnight.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high to 350°F. Cut chicken into 8 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, and each breast cut in half diagonally, with 2 breast halves attached to wings). Discard backbone. Fry chicken pieces in 2 batches until skin is crispy and internal temperature reaches 165°F, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer fried chicken to a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Season hot chicken immediately with salt.
Reheat 2 cups stock in a small saucepan over medium-low until warm. Ladle 1/2 cup stock into each of 4 bowls. Arrange 2 chicken pieces in each bowl and sprinkle evenly with scallions, fried garlic, and fried shallots. Serve with sliced cucumber, Ginger- Lime Hot Sauce, and Chicken-Fat Rice.
The master stock can be made ahead, strained, and chilled for up to 1 month. Bring to a boil before using.