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.
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.
The delectable bird quickly became an icon in Filipino culture. And understandably so, it's crispy, juicy, and tasty!
Although the establishment has grown to include multiple locations in the U.S., there are none here in Texas. Sitting down to a beautiful dinner of crispy, delicious chicken pieces dipped in copious amounts of banana catsup (or atchara!) in the restaurant is not as feasible as I'd like.
Thankfully, I've learned to replicate the delicious experience at home!
I am not claiming this to be the exact recipe for Max's Restaurant fried chicken, but it comes pretty close! With skin so crunchy and golden, and meat so juicy and flavorful, it's seriously sarap to the bones.
- The chicken is first brined overnight in a sugar and salt solution to infuse flavor and lock in moisture.
- It is then steamed for about 30 to 40 minutes to cook the meat gently.
- Finally, the bird is finished in a twice-deep frying process, with rest periods in between, to crisp the skin.
- For food safety, allow the brine to cool completely before use. 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.
Discard the brine solution after use. I wouldn't recommend using it more than once as it will contain blood, impurities, and bacteria from the chicken that was soaked in it.
- 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.
- Deep-fry at optimal 350 F to 375 F range. Use a thermometer to gauge temperature properly.
- The recipe involves a two-fry method. For best results, reheat the oil to 350 F before adding the chicken the second time.
- The chicken is fully cooked and is fried in oil only to crisp the skin. It should take about 5 to 7 minutes for each round or just until the skin is golden and crispy.
- Let the chicken rest before chopping to allow the juices to redistribute.
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's a lot of effort for one lone bird, I suggest brining and steaming a couple or more whole chickens at once and storing them in the freezer in ziplock bags. This way, your favorite dish is just a matter of thawing and frying.
- Serve with steamed rice, kamote fries, and banana ketchup for a full-on Max restaurant meal at home!
- As with most fried foods, the chicken is best enjoyed freshly cooked. If you have leftovers, store in the refrigerator in a container for up to 3 days.
- Chop leftovers and turn them into a spicy and creamy chicken sisig!
- 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.
- For the brine, boil the water to ensure the sugar and salt fully dissolve.
- For food safety, ensure the brine is completely cold before adding chicken.
- Discard the solution after use. I wouldn't recommend using it more than once as it will contain blood, impurities, and bacteria from the chicken that was soaked in it.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”