ULTIMATE COUNTRY FRIED CHICKEN
This Fried Chicken recipe was prepared for a number of people who were originally from the Deep South. They said it was the best they’d ever eaten, which is why I call it Ultimate Country Fried Chicken.
Whenever folks make an effort to “pick your brains” for information about exactly how you fried your chicken, you know you’ve got a Winner!
Let’s face it – – – some people’s fried chicken tastes like it’s not fully cooked. And many people say they don’t care much for chicken just because of that.
My Mom had a way of frying chicken so it was well done without losing it’s flavor or drying out. It was tender enough that you could pull it apart with your fingers. So luscious!
At the end of this article, I will include some Variations for coating ingredients for the chicken.
Let’s get started!
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 pound chicken, cut in serving pieces
1 stick butter (Do not use margarine.)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
Mix the flour, salt, and pepper together.
Wash the chicken pieces very well and blot them dry with paper towels.
Coat the pieces well with the flour mixture. Mom would press the flour mixture into the chicken with the palm of her hand so more of it would stick to the pieces.
- NOTE: We always use a dry coating on our chicken that is made with flour. I have never tried making a chicken coating with bread crumbs or cornmeal. We also have not used a marinade. It isn’t necessary using this method of frying chicken.
First, coat the pieces with the dry coating, then very lightly spritz (mist) the chicken with water. This will ensure a crispy skin. If you want the skin to be more tender, skip the water mist.
In a large skillet, melt the butter and vegetable shortening.
Mom would sometimes use all butter, and just keep adding it whenever necessary to brown the chicken evenly. Other times she used the combination of butter and shortening.
- NOTE: If you really want to “gild the lily,” try frying chicken in bacon grease. Yes, you heard me! Bacon grease. There’s even a song written about it. One of my favorite comforting comfort foods is a Shepherd’s Pie made with a combination of chicken and loads of crispy fried bacon stirred into the filling. Bacon and chicken just seem to go together.
Place chicken in the skillet skin side down. You want the skin to brown first.
Carefully turn the chicken over using kitchen tongs. Do not pierce the meat with a fork or juices will flow out. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides.
So often you see cooks on TV that brown just the top and bottom of the meat, but the “sides” of each piece are still pale in color. That is just not good!
If necessary, prop each piece up on their sides to make sure the chicken is browned all the way around.
STEAMING THE CHICKEN MAKES IT SO TENDER!
Remove each piece of chicken onto a plate using kitchen tongs.
Place a cookie rack right into the pan that contains the grease. Put the chicken pieces on top of the cookie rack.
This additional step will prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the pan or getting too brown. It also keeps the chicken a fraction of an inch above the bottom of the pan so the steam will penetrate better.
- NOTE: The cookie rack is what is used to cool cookies, brownies, even loaves of bread when they are removed from the oven. (Some folks also use them when cooking on a barbecue grill.) Make sure the cookie rack is stainless steel. This is important. Before you begin, check to make sure the rack will fit inside your skillet.
Pour a little water into the pan to create steam. Be careful not to pour it onto the chicken.
Put the lid on the pan, but leave it very slightly ajar so part of the steam will escape. Be careful that you don’t burn yourself. For a regular 3 pound chicken, Mom would steam it 45 minutes, adding more water now and then to maintain steam.
- NOTE: My Mom favored using an electric skillet to fry her chicken for she said she had more control over the temperature. She watched it like a hawk while it was cooking (no pun intended). Some electric skillets have a built in “vent” to allow steam to escape.
She would often make gravy out of the pan drippings.
VARIATIONS OF FRIED CHICKEN COATINGS
Everyone has their own ideas of how fried chicken should be seasoned. Here is a list of some of the ingredients you might want to add to your chicken coating. Experiment!
- BBQ Blend Seasoning
- Chili Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Italian Blend Seasoning
- Lemon Pepper
- Onion Powder
- Parmesan Cheese, grated fine
- Poultry Seasoning
- Ranch Dressing Mix
HAPPY COOKING! Susan