My love for good fried chicken is deep and abiding. The skin has to be extra crispy, giving way to hot and juicy meat below, and don't forget your buttermilk biscuits on the side!
I'm not in the habit of making fried chicken at home, but this recipe from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook has given me the confidence to give it a go. According to Matt and Ted, the secret to great fried chicken is temperature. Make sure your chicken is at room temperature before frying, and keep your oil as close to 325 degrees as possible. They also have a recipe for what they call "Sunday Fried Chicken" which calls for brining the chicken in advance. I'm going to start with Tuesday, and work up to Sunday.
Tuesday Fried Chicken
- for 4 people -
- 3 cups peanut oil, canola oil, clarified butter, or lard
- 1 recipe Lee Bros. All-Purpose Fry Dredge
- 3 pounds chicken legs and thighs (about 6 legs and 6 bone-in thighs)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- A sprinkling of bread crumbs for quick browning, if dredging fish or oysters
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 325 degrees on a candy thermometer. If using a different-sized skillet or pan, fill with oil (or melt enough lard and clarified butter) to a depth of 1/3 inch.
Place the fry dredge in a medium bowl or a 1-gallon plastic bag. Dredge the chicken thoroughly, by dipping each piece in the bowl or shaking it in the bag. Shake off any excess dredge. Using tongs, transfer 3 legs and 3 thighs to the skillet, skin side down, and cover. Fry the chicken, checking the temperature of the oil and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the temperature between 325 and 350 degrees, until the chicken is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Uncover the skillet, turn the chicken pieces with the tongs, and fry 6 minutes more, until the chicken is golden brown all over. Turn it and fry for 3 minutes, then turn again and fry for 3 minutes more.
With tongs, transfer the chicken to a paper-rowel-lined plate and place in the oven to warm. Repeat step 3 with the remaining chicken.
When all the chicken is done, serve immediately, and pass a cruet of Pepper Vinegar at the table.
In a medium bowl. sift the flour, cornmeal. salt, and pepper together twice. Stir and turn out onto a flat surface. Press chicken or other things to fry into the mixture on all sides and shake the excess loose.
- makes 2 cups -
Time: 2 minutes to prepare, 24 hours to chill
With a funnel, pour the vinegar into a cruet. Add the chiles and use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to submerge them, if necessary. Cap the cruet and place it in the refrigerator. The vinegar will be well infused in 24 hours and will keep for months in the refrigerator.