Fried Chicken a la Max's Restaurant you can make at home! This iconic Filipino chicken copycat is juicy, crispy, and delicious to the bone.
Kawaling Pinoy is now four years old, but most of you don't probably know before there was Kawaling Pinoy, I had another cooking blog called The CookMobile.
I started food blogging in 2007, and from day one, I was smitten with the idea of turning it into a career of some sort. Unfortunately, those couple of years The CookMobile was up and running were a dark and turbulent period in my life. I was in such a state of loss, I couldn't even soundly manage my day to day affairs and, much less, meet the demands of a website.
I guess you can say, my head and my heart were not in the right place.
After going through a divorce, dropping my DSLR camera at Splash Mountain in Disneyland (yes, true story!) and forgetting to renew my web hosting (yes, I did!), The CookMobile went poofed along with 300-plus recipes!
So, why am I bringing up the past long gone and a cooking blog long dead? Because my most popular recipe on that site was this fried chicken a la Max's Restaurant! Posting it here now at Kawaling Pinoy is like me bringing a beloved home.
Max's Restaurant was founded in 1945 and has since spanned the globe with more than 200 branches worldwide. As their tagline-The House that Fried Chicken Built-states, the company's fame and fortune grew on the strength of one signature dish, their fried chicken. And understandably! Crisp, tender, and flavorful, the delectable bird quickly became an icon in the Filipino culture.
Although the restaurant has grown to include multiple locations in California, the closest to my place is still a good hour away. Driving to Max's and sitting down to a beautiful dinner of crispy, delicious chicken pieces dipped in copious amounts of banana catsup (or atchara!) is not as feasible as I'd like.
Thankfully, I've learned to replicate the delicious experience at home and can now indulge without having to shoulder traffic. Now, I am not claiming this to be the exact recipe for Max's Restaurant fried chicken.
However, I assure you, this fried chicken a la Max's Restaurant comes pretty close! With skin so crunchy and golden, meat so juicy and flavorful, it's truly sarap to the bones.
- The chicken is first brined overnight in a sugar and salt solution to infuse flavor and to lock in moisture.
- It is then steamed for about 30 to 40 minutes to cook the meat gently.
- Finally, the bird is finished off in a twice-deep frying process, with rest periods in between, to crisp the skin.
Now, let me forewarn you that the fried chicken we have here is not one you can whip up on a whim. The steps, albeit simple, are time-consuming.
Since it'ss a lot of effort for one lone bird, I like to brine and steam a couple or more whole chickens at a time and store them in the freezer in ziplock bags. This way, my favorite pleasure is just a matter of thawing and frying.
- For food safety, allow the brine to cool completely before using. Brine the chicken in the refrigerator.
- Do not keep the chicken in the solution for more than 24 hours lest it becomes overly salty if it sits in the brine for too long.
- Use Kosher salt, and not regular table salt.
- I added onion, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns, but feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices such as sage, thyme, rosemary, and chili peppers.
- Use oil with high-smoke points such as peanut, corn, canola, or safflower. Use enough oil to ensure the chicken is at least ¾ submerged.
- Maintain the oil temperature at the optimal 350 F to 375 F. Note that the chicken is fully cooked and is fried in oil only to crisp the skin.
- The recipe involves a two-fry method. For best results, reheat the oil to 350 F before adding the chicken the second time.
- Let the chicken rest before chopping to allow the juices to redistribute.
- Serve with steamed rice, kamote fries, and banana ketchup for a true Max's restaurant meal at home!
- This Max's fried chicken copycat is best enjoyed freshly cooked. If you do have leftovers, store in the refrigerator in a container for up to 3 days.
- Chop leftovers and turn into a spicy and creamy chicken sisig!
More Filipino-style chicken recipes? Try this lechong manok roasted in a turbo broiler.
Fried Chicken a la Max's Restaurant
- 4 cups water
- ¾ cup kosher salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 head garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 whole spring chicken (about 3 to 4 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- canola oil
- In a large saucepan, combine 4 cups of water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Remove from heat and refrigerate until completely cold. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns.
- Add chicken to pot to fully submerge in solution. Refrigerate overnight.
- Drain chicken from the brine. Rinse well and pat dry.
- Steam for about 30 to 40 minutes or until cooked through but not falling apart.
- Remove chicken from heat and refrigerate, uncovered, to cool completely. Brush all over with fish sauce.
- In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, heat about 6-inches deep of oil (enough to fully cover chicken during frying) to 350 F.
- Gently add chicken and deep fry, turning as needed, for about 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from pot and drain on paper towels. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
- Reheat cooking oil back to 350 F. Gently add chicken back into hot oil and deep fry for about 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
- Remove chicken from pot and drain on a wire rack. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into serving portions.