by Leslie Watson Harris
Fried chicken is a Southern birthright, and so I was interested to find this recipe and try it at home myself. Â Itâ€™s simple, and not at all difficult, but it does require some advance planning and some modifications from the original recipe to ensure food safety.
Hereâ€™s what youâ€™ll need:
|2 pounds of chicken pieces (breasts, legs, thighs)||4 eggs, beaten|
|3 cups buttermilk||3 cups all-purpose flour|
|Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper||4 cups vegetable shortenin|
Hereâ€™s what to do:
- Place the chicken pieces, skin side down, in a shallow, seal-able container and pour in the buttermilk. Â Seal and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375Â°F.
- Put shortening in a 12 inch skillet or sautÃ© pan with deep sides, and allow to melt over medium-high heat. Â The recipe calls for 2 inches of melted shortening, though the amount of solid shortening needed to achieve this can vary depending on your pan. Â It will be ready for frying when it begins to smoke, so keep a close eye on it while preparing your chicken.
- Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl . Â In another shallow bowl or dish, place the flour. Â Dredge the chicken pieces, one at a time, first in the egg and then in the flour, then repeat.
- Fry the chicken for 2 minutes on each side, until the skin is golden brown. Â Transfer it to a baking sheet and bake the chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked to an internal temperature of 165Â°F.
First, the only chicken pieces I could find were HUGE. Â They were either sold in packages segregated by body part (all breasts, all thighs, etc.) or I finally found a package that included 2 breasts, 2 thighs, and 2 legs. Â But in every case, the breasts were absolutely enormous. Â This affected the recipe in terms of the amount of buttermilk I needed to coat the chicken overnight, the amount of melted shortening necessary to fry it, and the amount of time required to have the chicken reach the proper temperature.
Bearing all of the above in mind, I used a full quart of buttermilk (4 cups) and could have probably used more, except that was all I had available. Â I also used a can and a half of Crisco shortening, which was as much as my skillet could reasonably hold without overflowing once I put the chicken in to fry, but it still left a lot of the breast above the oil during cooking. Â You donâ€™t want your chicken to be entirely submerged while frying, but more than Â¼ of it should be in the oil otherwise you get browning on both sides, and a pale, raw stripe around the middle!
The chicken came out nicely, however I was disappointed in the texture and flavor of the skin. Â The texture could have been a little more crispy for my liking, but it absolutely needed more flavor. Â This recipe does not call for any seasoning whatsoever to be put into the flour before dredging the chicken, and to be blunt, I think thatâ€™s a crime against chicken. Â I restrained myself to adding only salt and pepper to the flour, in an attempt to be true to the recipe, but if I were to make this again I would certainly want to jazz things up by adding some additional seasoning, such as cayenne or paprika, or maybe even garlic powder. Â I would also rather have something besides just flour â€“ panko bread crumbs or even cornflakes are great for fried chicken if you like a lot of crunch and texture. Â As written, though, this recipe produces a flaky, but dull skin, with a slightly papery texture.
Chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165Â°F to be safe for consumption. Â I browned it in the skillet for more than the directed 2 minutes per side (because at 2 minutes it looked rather anemic to me), and the thighs still requires closer to 20 minutes to achieve the proper temperature. Â The breasts, however, took over 25 minutes. Â (If you donâ€™t own an instant read thermometer, itâ€™s a worthwhile investment for your kitchen. Â The Thermapen is my personal favorite, but I know not everyone is willing to shell out that kind of money for a thermometer. Â You can find others at lower price points, they may just be slightly slower to read the temperature. )
Aside from my disappointment in the crust, the meat was moist and flavorful thanks to the overnight buttermilk bath. Â My family scarfed down most of the chicken I prepared, and the leftover chicken was cut off the bone and used in a frittata for dinner the next night. Â Waste not, want not!
Due to the messy nature of the preparation for the recipe, and the fact that raw chicken is less than visually appealing, I only have â€œafterâ€ shots for this recipe. Â Give it a try, play with the seasoning, and let me know what you think!
Leslie is a long-time Disney fan, having marched down Main Street USA with her high school marching band and honeymooned there as well.Â A busy working mother of 3 boys, Leslie is a foodie who also has run several half marathons to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.