KEEPING SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY ALIVE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

Fried Chicken

Difficulty Level is 5 (on a Scale of 1 to 5)

For the inexperienced cook, perfect fried chicken may be a challenge. While I have tried to be specific in the instructions, this is one of those recipes where exactness in quantities and cooking temperatures are not precise. Chicken needs to have more seasoning than other meats but be careful that the seasoning does not dominate. Preheating the oil and cooking time can vary because of your stove, the thickness of the meat and the number of pieces in the skillet. Don't rush the process of frying chicken. Patience will reward you in the end.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-1/2 lbs. chicken pieces (large breasts should be cut in half)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • Salt, pepper and paprika
  • Peanut oil for frying

PREPARATION:

Wash the chicken and pat dry. Combine eggs, buttermilk and water, set aside.

Liberally salt and pepper chicken, pressing seasonings into the meat. Lightly sprinkle on paprika. Dip each piece of chicken into milk mixture, then dredge in flour. Place floured pieces of chicken on cookie sheet and add more salt and pepper.

Fill a 10-1/4" iron skillet with at least 1/2" of peanut oil, but no more more than half the depth of the pan. Preheat oil to 350 degrees. Carefully put four pieces of chicken into the hot oil; DO NOT CROWD THE PAN. Adding too many pieces will reduce the oil's temperature and the result will not be a crispy one.

Fry one side until golden brown, then turn over with tongs and brown the other side. Reduce heat to medium low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook another 20 - 40 minutes. Remove the cover for the last 10 - 15 minutes to recrisp the skin. Using clean tongs, remove fried chicken and place on wire rack to drain and cool. Delicious hot or cold.

FROM YARD TO PLATE

When my grandmother decided to fry a chicken, she started with a live bird. It was my mother's job to fetch the bird from the hen yard and wring its neck. Fortunately for the queasy among us, chicken is available at every supermarket these days, dead, plucked and ready to cook. Frying chicken is an art and during my lifetime I've only met a handful of cooks who were up to the challenge. Their equipment and ingredients weren't fancy. It was their skill at seasoning and knowing when to add the meat to the oil that made their fried chicken unforgettable.