LOCATION: Recipes >> Poultry >> Fried 08
ZEN AND THE ART OF SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN
SOAKING CHICKEN FOR FRYING
I've tried soaking chicken at various times in milk, buttermilk or
salted water. I've fried it without soaking it at all. I don't
discern any appreciable difference in the milk soaked chicken and
chicken that has not been soaked. (I don't like the crust on
chicken that's been rolled in beaten egg.) Soaking the chicken in
buttermilk does impart a noticeable flavor in the meat, primarily
because of the tanginess of the milk and the salt that's in it.
But is wastes so much delicious buttermilk! And you really need to
soak it overnight to achieve any additional flavor. By current
preferred method for soaking chicken is to soak it in heavily salted
water. It's easy, cheap, and quick and very, very effective. I
usually cut up the frying hen and then soak it in ice cold water
to which has been added 1 cup salt (Usually Kosher, but you can
use anything.) I soak it for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Bring the chicken
to room temperature before you begin frying. The above steps take
time and patience. Stop awhile and mediate on the beingness of
chickens and where you are standing in the light and empty your
mind of everything, especially fears of salmonella.
Chicken is not wildly flavorful. It's subtle and it marries well
with so many other flavors. That's why chefs love it and cook so
much of it. I usually season the hell out of the flour I'm going
to roll the chicken in. I've added thyme, garlic powder, white
pepper, cayenne pepper, celery seed. Use what's at hand, but use
a lot of it. You will notice that you are becoming the herbs and
spices, and rather than them coming from outside you, they seem to
pour out of you as you focus your concentration on making your
Corn oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, lard, bacon fat.
Corn oil has sugars in it, so it can become somewhat sticky in the
skillet. It's okay. Use it if that's all you have.
Peanut oil. Great. Too expensive though.
Lard. This is the real McCoy of course for frying genuine, authentic
Southern Fried Chicken. Don't tell your guests, they're likely to
run screaming from the room or think that you've gone mad and are
really a terrible cook, or a stupid one. Add a little bacon fat
for extra flavor. If you know how to make your own homemade lard,
you're a blessed soul. Fry your chicken in homemade lard sometime
and find out why Southern Fried Chicken ever got to be so popular
in the first place. The store bought lard won't give you the same
Vegetable oil. The oil of choice these days. It's got a high
smoke point, it's relatively cheap, it's considered more healthful.
Crisco is the standard national brand most people use. Solid or
liquid is fine. Canola oil is excellent too and I prefer it to
Any heavy bottom frying pay will do. A cast iron skillet is de
riguer, of course. It's the best. It just is. Just be.
Rinse your chicken parts off. Roll them immediately in the flour
coating while still wet. Put them on a plate or rack. If you want
extra crispy, wait about 20 minutes and re-roll the pieces in the
I believe that it's a culinary conceit that the oil must be smoking
before you add the chicken parts. It's somehow supposed to make
it less greasy. It doesn't. I've started it when the skillet was
smoking and I've started frying when the oil was only medium hot.
When the oil is smoking hot, it only seems to burn the outside of
the chicken before the inside is done, especially if you've soaked
it in milk. I don't believe that it's necessary. I simply don't
notice that the chicken is less oily when fried this way. It's
fried. You cannot, nor should you want to, remove all the oil from
the chicken. Then it would be baked chicken. If you're too afraid
of eating a little oil, don't ruin your day by making this dish.
Find your harmony. Peace with oil.
Try this: Get the oil just until it will sizzle nicely when you
put in a piece of chicken. Set the burner at about medium. Have
your chicken at room temperature. Put the pieces in, being careful
not to overcrowd. Cover the skillet. Every 6-8 minutes, turn the
chicken and recover the skillet. Every time you turn, turn up the
heat just a little. Continue this for 3 or 4 turnings. Remove
the cover and turn the heat up to high in order to put a nice golden
crust on the chicken. We are on fire and we are not consumed.
Drain on paper towel. Serve warm. Hold it in a warm oven, if you
need to. Cold, the next day, right out of the refrigerator, is
manna from heaven.
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