Fried Chicken a la Max’s Restaurant is a delicious copycat recipe of the iconic Max’s Fried Chicken. Crisp, juicy and flavorful, it’s delicious to the bone!
Kawaling Pinoy is now four years old but most of you don’t probably know, before there was Kawaling Pinoy (or Onion Rings and Things for that matter), 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 it as a career path. 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 wonderful dinner of crisp, succulent 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 shouldering traffic.
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 definitely time-consuming.
The chicken is first brined overnight in a sugar and salt (plus spices) solution to infuse flavor and to lock in moisture. It is then steamed for about 30 to 40 minutes to gently cook the meat. Finally, the bird is finished off in a twice-deep frying process, with rest periods in between, to crisp the skin.
Going through all that trouble for one lone chicken can be deterring. What I like to do on my free weekends is brine and steam a couple or more 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.
Now, I am not claiming this to be the exact recipe for Max’s Restaurant fried chicken. Wouldn’t it be cool if I was allowed in their kitchen and watch their chefs at work? But 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.
Fried Chicken a la Max's Restaurant
- 4 cups water and more for steaming
- 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 (4 to 5 pounds) whole spring chicken, cut into half, if you like, for easier frying
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 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 brine and pat dry. Arrange on a steamer in a single layer (if chicken is cut into half or if using chicken parts) and steam for about 30 to 40 minutes or until cooked through but not falling apart. Remove chicken from heat and allow to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes or until cool to touch.
- Liberally brush outside of chicken 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, 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 until golden brown and crisp. Remove chicken from pot and drain on paper towels. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into serving portions.
*First Published on January 28, 2016.