Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Southern Fried Chicken
I once read that gossip columnist Liz Smith, who is from Texas, claimed to love all kinds of fried chicken; but she noted quite emphatically that she had never eaten a battered variety while growing up in the South. Southern fried chicken, at its most authentic, is merely coated with seasoned flour and fried in a skillet.
It's also easier to make this traditional fried chicken, and it's far less messy than battering and deep-frying, as well. Who wants to be washing extra dishes, after all, and wiping up splattered grease when they can simply be enjoying this perfect summer food?
I cooked my chicken in a combination of oil and bacon fat, which I always reserve rather than discarding it. I consider it to be a priceless contribution to many foods, even in small quantities, as its flavor is incomparable. If you're going to be frying a piece of chicken anyway - and especially relishing the crispy, spicy skin - then it's not as though you're particularly concerned about calories or cholesterol. Have a little extra fun!
If you don't have access to this priceless resource, however, you can use schmaltz - rendered chicken fat - which is available for purchase near the kosher meats at grocery stores. This is used in kosher cooking as a substitute for butter when preparing fleishig - [FLAY-shig], Yiddish for "flesh" or meat - as meat and dairy products can't be combined.
Perfect for a picnic or a family reunion or "just because," traditional Southern Fried Chicken is a simple delicacy and an ideal summertime food.
Southern Fried Chicken
4 chicken thighs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup unbleached flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 generous shakes of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons bacon fat (or schmaltz or butter)
Lay the chicken pieces on a plate, and sprinkle all sides with the kosher salt.
In a strong quart-sized baggie, combine the flour, cornmeal, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, seasoned salt, chili powder and cayenne pepper. One by one, place the chicken pieces into the baggie, seal it, and shake until the chicken is well coated.
In a large skillet, melt the oil and bacon fat over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin-side up, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Turn chicken one more time, cover the pan loosely, and cook for 10 more minutes.
Remove the chicken pieces and pat dry on paper towels.
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