O Fried Chicken
How I love you.
Even if I don’t eat you very often
Because you’re so very,
Very fattening and
Clog my arteries.
But, damn – you’re tasty.
As we all may or may not know (or care), I grew up in Texas. You do not grow up in Texas and dislike fried chicken – it simply isn’t done. Someone will snatch you up and take you to a small, cheap motel room to reprogram you. Or exorcise you. Or something.
Fried chicken. I love it. My mother never cooked it when I was growing up because she simply didn’t know how – she complained that it always turned out burned on the outside and raw on the inside. Which makes me wonder if she ever communicated with my grandmother at all, because that woman made some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.
Frying chicken really is not that hard. All you need is a large, heavy skillet with a lid, some oil (or, if you’re one of those die-hard Southerners, some Crisco), some flour, milk, an egg, basic seasonings, and, of course, some chicken. Not boneless, skinless chicken breasts either, but chicken parts with all of that stuff left on/in (you wouldn’t want to end up in that small, cheap motel, now would you?).
As I said, any heavy skillet with a lid that is large enough to hold all of the pieces of chicken you’re cooking is fine, but it’s a dandy excuse to buy a cast iron chicken fryer. *Smiles sweetly at Beloved* Isn’t it dear? And since fried chicken tastes almost as good cold as it does hot, and not only can but should be eaten with your hands, it is great picnic food.
If you like it spicy, use they cayenne. It is SO good that way.
serves a picnic
3 pounds frying chicken pieces
2 to 2-1/2 cups oil or Crisco
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
Combine the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in a wide, shallow dish; set aside. Combine the egg and milk in a separate dish large enough to hold a couple of pieces of chicken and set aside.
In a heavy skillet, melt shortening or heat the oil over high heat.
While the shortening/oil is heating, rinse the chicken pieces and lightly pat dry with a paper towel. Working with one or two pieces at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking to remove excess. Dip each piece in the milk/egg mixture, then dredge again in the flour mixture, coating well. Place pieces in a single layer on a piece of waxed paper until all are coated.
When the shortening/oil reaches a temperature of 360°F on a frying thermometer, carefully add the chicken pieces, skin side down, starting with the dark meat in the center of the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and fry chicken until skin side is golden brown, then turn and brown the other side.
Reduce heat to medium, and cover the pan. Cook for 25 minutes, and remove the cover. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Remove chicken pieces, and drain on paper towels.