My family describes it as fried chicken heaven. Think crispy. Think tasty. This is absolutely "sarap (delicious) to the bones" Yes folks, for those of you who remember that slogan, we all know that I'm talking about Max's Fried Chicken.
If America has Colonel Sanders' KFC, in the Philippines we have Max's. But while Colonel Sanders' recipe hides the chicken with its breading, Max's does not. Max's Restaurant is famous for its unique fried chicken recipe. A usual order is for a quarter or half chicken with dinner rolls and butter on the side.
I remember there was a Max's restaurant near UP (University of the Philippines- where I went to school). I went there on a first date with a guy. You might think "how cheap!" but in my defense, I was young and that was the closest restaurant to UP at the time that served an iconic dish.
Waiter (to me): Your order Ma'am?
Me: Fried Chicken
Waiter: What size ma'am.
God knows I wanted the whole spring chicken. But yeah, it was our first date so I have to look demure, so I said "A quarter!"
Waiter: And you sir (to my date)
Date: Pork barbecue (on a stick)
I said to myself "Really?" as my eyes rolled in disbelief. How could he order a pork dish in a restaurant made famous by its fried chicken??? Hmmm, major turn off? Guess again. I married the guy. haha! I made a note to myself that I will have to do the ordering on our next date...
And so this fried chicken recipe I am sharing may not be the "secret recipe" Max's Restaurant has been keeping through out the years but trust me, it comes close. Make sure to get your sauces ready: you know the drill, yes the Jufran Banana Ketchup, the Worcestershire sauce and maybe some Mother's Best hot sauce. Serve with dinner rolls, King's Hawaiian Bakery or Costco dinner rolls are the closest to what is served in the Philippines. Enjoy!
Fried Chicken ala Max's
1 chicken whole or 4 leg quarters
salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic
2 stalks of lemongrass
3 bay leaves
2 stalks of celery
Pound the lemongrass. Make sure to get the juices out. Rub it on to the chicken. Mince the garlic and mix it together with salt and pepper. Rub it to the chicken. Slip more of the mix under the skin. You need some TLC while rubbing it under the skin, you don't want the skin to tear.
Throw in some bay leaves, peppercorns, cilantro leaves and celery (or any herbs and spices to add more flavor) in a steamer. Steam the chicken for 30 minutes. Hang it to dry or for faster results pat try with paper towels. Proceed to the next step or you can put it in the fridge until you are ready to cook it. Make sure to bring the chicken out an hour before cooking.
Now here’s where you decide what to do next:
a: Submerge the chicken in a pot full of oil and deep fry it on high heat.
b: Bake it at 375F in an oven, or in my case, the turbo broiler, until very crispy. When you hear the skin crackling, voila, it’s done!
Either you bake it or fry it, you will enjoy a tasty, crispy fried chicken ala Max's. As I've said before have some banana ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. And if you would want to have some heat, add some hot sauce. Go ahead, mix that sauce just the way you like it and enjoy this crispy fried chicken.