Southern Fried Chicken

by TRH on April 12, 2013

in Cooking & Recipes

Post image for Southern Fried Chicken


Let’s start with one thing. There is no “one and only true recipe” for southern fried chicken. I don’t care who your granny got the recipe from, I don’t care if your family has been making it in some way since 1826, I don’t even care if you’re Colonel Sanders IV there is no “true” recipe. Much like chili there is always someone telling you that what you’re doing is wrong and inauthentic and honestly these people need to shut up. That said, I don’t claim that this is in any way authentic either. For this particular I used skinless breasts and thighs at the request of my target audience but the recipe still produces a nice crispy coating and a delicious crunch. Obviously you can simply cut apart a full chicken and use whatever you like.

Most southern style fried chicken recipes involve some sort of soak followed by a flour dredge. In many cases this is a brine, in many cases this is a buttermilk soak (what gives some of these recipes the distinctive tangy bite) and in the case of more involved recipes (Like the Thomas Keller Ad Hoc recipe) both might be called for. This recipe uses a simple buttermilk soak with spices that you can adjust to your own personal taste.

In the shots below you’ll see me using a deep fryer (now that I have access to one) however I’ve made this dish in the past with a deep saucepan and it’s entirely doable. A deep cast iron skillet or dutch oven is of course ideal if you don’t have a deep fryer.

Note: I’ve also finished roughly half this batch with panko instead just to see how well it transfers. Those were delish as well and fantastic on a sandwich as leftovers. I preferred the traditional for a straight fried chicken though.

Ingredients:
-chicken, whole or pieces
-frying medium (here I use canola oil)
-1L Buttermilk
-Flour (roughly 2 cups, will depend on chicken volumes)
-Spices to your tastes, see below
-1 Egg

Method:
The soak:
Start by prepping your chicken. Trim any excessive bits of fat from your pieces (and of course separate the chicken pieces if you’re using a full chicken.)
Soak your chicken in buttermilk overnight. I add some spices to mine but this isn’t really necessary and may not do much (original recipe I worked from called for it.) I always try to let mine soak for around a day usually prepping the chicken after dinner the night before I plan to make it. If you have any leftover buttermilk I suggest that you make some buttermilk biscuits or some cornbread with it, since if you’re like me and most other Canadians it’s otherwise likely to sit around the fridge until it goes bad.

The dredge:

-As you prepare the chicken to actually cook it pull out your chicken and let the excess buttermilk drip off for a while before you start.

Make sure the excess buttermilk drips off

Make sure the excess buttermilk drips off

-Add some more spices at this point depending on what you’re looking for.
-For this batch I mixed up roughly: 1tbsp of cayenne, cumin, garlic and onion, 2tbsp paprika, cracked black pepper and kosher salt. I gave each piece a healthy dose of this then dredged it in flour. You can also add spices to your flour but make sure you add enough of each by volume for the flour (you do not want spices in the outer layer as they may burn so if you do this have two flour sources)

My spice blend

My spice blend

-It suddenly occurs to me that some of you may not know what dredging is, basically you’re getting a nice even coat of flour across all of the meat. A fun way to do this especially if you have kids helping is to use a plastic bread bag filled with a bit of flour, add some chicken, twist it up and shake it for a bit. I wholeheartedly suggest having a second outer bag to reduce the mess.
-Beat an egg and add the tiniest smidgin of milk or buttermilk
***As you’re ready to fry each piece give it a quick soak in the egg wash then dredge it again in plain flour (if you spiced your 1st flour use a second source.) Do not wait long after this step to get them in the oil or they’ll go slightly squidgy and you’ll likely lose some/all of your coating.
***note: for the second coat you can use panko crumbs at this point as well.

The Panko Option

The Panko Option

The cooking:

Here’s another place I’ll diverge from some of the purportedly authentic recipes. Yes doing it in shortening/lard gives you a beautiful golden colour and extra crispyness. I’ve done it, there’s no denying it. I’m sure it’s super in peanut oil too (but peanut oil is ludicrously expensive here.) Honestly though, it tastes amazing with canola oil doing the frying all the same and I feel like I can have it more than once a year if I’m not frying things in lard. These temps are therefore a guideline only and may need to be adjusted based on your cooking medium. I’m still trying to find what I think is the perfect cooking temp (my deep fryer’s recommended chicken temp is simply too high.) This batch I did right around 350 with canola oil and it worked quite well as is probably what I’ll use going forward.

Don't overcrowd the chicken

Don’t overcrowd the chicken

As always I heartily recommend a good cooking thermometer to both keep tabs on the temp of your oil and to check the internal temp of your meat without cutting it open and losing all the juiciness. Kymberly and I both have Thermapens (so amazing) but you don’t have to go that hawg wild in order to have something reliable. If you’re doing this stovetop you want to keep your oil at as constant a temp as possible (keeping in mind that adding your chicken will drop the temp down each time.)
Incredibly tasty and moist[/caption]You’ll notice I’m avoiding giving firm times since it will vary wildly based on how you’re cooking, in what, how big your pieces are etc. The one thing I will say is to make sure you use enough oil, and to make sure you don’t move the pieces for the first couple minutes of cooking so the coating really sticks. The end result should be around 165F. The recommended numbers vary a bit depending on where you are but 165 is pretty standard. Note you obviously can’t go by juices running clear from it because you’re just as likely seeing oil.
Once each piece is done sprinkle it lightly with Kosher salt and let it cool on a rack, not directly on paper towel.

Panko Finished

Panko Finished

Panko Finished

Panko Finished

Traditional Finish

Traditional Finish

Incredibly tasty and moist

Incredibly tasty and moist

Serving:

Serve it with a side of cornbread or biscuits, a nice tangy summer salad and some roasted potatoes. It’s also pretty great tossed with buffalo sauce (frank’s red hot and butter) and topped with some blue cheese, or served on a bun with some tomato and mustard as leftovers.
Speaking of leftovers I also recommend making more than you need for that reason. The leftovers keep a fair bit of the crunch and are nice on their own, in a sandwich or even chopped up in a salad.

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