Classic Southern-Fried Chicken
So here is my preferred method of frying chicken. And in a world where everyone professes that their version is the best, all I can say is that this recipe makes everyone who eats it happy and that is good enough for me. If you haven’t got any buttermilk, you can mix 750ml of whole milk with the juice of a lemon. Leave it to stand until thickened.
|Juice of 1 lime|
|1||chicken, jointed into 10 pieces, or 10 skin-on bone-in chicken pieces|
|3 tbsp||sea salt|
|2 x 284ml||pots of buttermilk|
|2 tsp||ground white pepper|
|2 tsp||garlic powder|
|1 tsp||sweet smoked paprika|
|Groundnut oil and, if you have it, lard, to fry|
You will need a large, deep-sided skillet.
Rub the lime over the chicken, then pat it dry. Mix the salt with the buttermilk and milk. Pour this over the chicken and mix thoroughly. Lay the chicken out on a rack or baking tray and put in the fridge, preferably overnight, reserving the buttermilk marinade. Baste once or twice with the leftover marinade if you have time, but don’t worry if you don’t. The aim is for the buttermilk to tenderise the chicken without it getting too soggy. When you’re ready to fry, remove the chicken from the fridge and allow it to reach room temperature.
Mix the flour with the white pepper, garlic powder and paprika, then season well with fine salt. Dip the chicken pieces in the flour, a few at a time, dusting off any excess flour as you go.
Heat a 2cm depth of oil in a large, deep-sided skillet. You need the chicken to fit into it in a single layer, with just a little room to breathe; you don’t want them touching. Don’t overcrowd the pan; if necessary, use two. Add a thick slice of lard or bacon drippings to the pan if you have it, it will help the flavour by making it very slightly sweeter.
Test the oil with the end of a drumstick, or a cube of bread speared on a fork. Hold in the oil, it should immediately bubble and start frying.
Add the chicken pieces and cover. You should be able to maintain the frying over a medium heat. You don’t want the oil too hot, or the chicken to brown too quickly, as the outside will cook long before the inside is done. Cook for six to eight minutes on each side, depending on how thick the pieces of chicken are. I test for doneness with a probe thermometer, it should read 75°C (167°F). Otherwise, if you pierce with a skewer, it should come out too hot to touch for more than a millisecond. This is the first stage...
Remove the lid and increase the heat. Continue to fry for another minute or so (perhaps longer) on each side until the outside is mid brown. Drain on kitchen paper then keep warm in the oven until you are ready to eat.
If you prefer to bake in the oven, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Put the chicken on a baking tray and bake for 45–50 minutes. It should still be lovely and crisp. Sounds a bit simpler, too, doesn’t it?