Southern-style Fried Chicken
This recipe calls for at least 1 day of marination so plan accordingly. The results are definitely worth it!
1 3-lb fryer chicken cut into 8 pieces
2 cups buttermilk*
2 Tbs salt
4 tsps dry mustard
4 tsps cayenne pepper (paprika may be substituted for a milder version)
2 1/2 tsps ground black pepper
3 cups flour
1 Tbs garlic powder
Vegetable shortening for frying
Tips for making excellent fried chicken:
1) Make sure the chicken is not much more than 3 lbs. Larger chickens will not cook through and the exterior will be overcooked by the time the inside is done.
2) Use a cast iron skillet if at all possible and a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil.
3) Do not place the cooked chicken on paper towels to drain, use a rack over a baking sheet. Do not put the chicken in an oven as this will destroy the crispy crust. Keep the chicken warm by loosely tenting with foil.
Using a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag as a container, put the buttermilk and 1 tsp each of salt, dry mustard, cayenne and black pepper inside. Add chicken pieces and toss gently to coat thoroughly. Squeezing out excess air, seal the bag. At this point refrigerate the bag, turning occasionally for 1 to 2 days.
Whisk flour, garlic powder and remaining dry ingredients in a large baking dish. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Do not shake off excess liquid from the chicken pieces. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture making sure each piece is well coated. Let chicken stand in flour mixture for about an hour turning occasionally to recoat with flour mixture.
Melt enough shortening (over low heat) to come about a 1/4" up the side of a 12" cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. When the shortening is melted, raise the heat to 325F. Do not let it overheat.
Shaking excess flour off of the chicken, place the pieces skin side down in the pan. Put the things in the middle and the other pieces around the edges. Cook chicken until a deep golden brown on each side, approximately 8 to 10 minutes per side. The internal temperature should be about 180 degrees. Keep on eye on your shortening temperature to ensure that it doesn't overheat.
Place cooked chicken pieces on a rack over a baking sheet. This is the classic Southern-style fried chicken served at picnics as it is equally delicious when cold.
Yield: Approximately 4 servings. Can be doubled and tripled as necessary.
*Make your own buttermilk using a ratio of 1 tsp vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Stir gently and let sit for 1 minutes before using.
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