Southern cooking is in its own right a type of art. This is comfort food in the extreme, and to make it the chef will need the right tools and a love of spending some time in the kitchen. The best cookware for this type of family style food demands going with nonstick surfaces for skillets and pans. The chef will also need a saucepan for the gravy. Whatever is chosen for the sides the skillet will need to be deep, and capable of holding up to at least 6 pieces of chicken at a time. Southerners have traditional used a large cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven for this task, but it’s easy to find newer, and easier to use skillets large enough to accommodate an entire chicken after it’s cut up to parts.
Starting out by only making the chicken is a good plan since trying to dive into the complete meal can send a cook quickly back to the fast food lane for a bucket of anything resembling chicken. The fact of the matter is fried chicken takes some prep, and care in order for every piece to be thoroughly cooked, but not scorched or burned.
The Right Choices
In looking at chicken the cook can either opt for a whole chicken to cut up into pieces, or buy selected pieces ready for frying. It’s also possible to opt for only breast meat pieces as well. Looking online it’s possible to find instructional videos on how to cut and prep chicken for frying if this is something new. In looking at preparing a whole chicken it’s necessary to keep in mind not all pieces will cook through at the same time. Darker pieces of the chicken will take longer, and the thicker the piece the longer it will need to remain frying in order to cook all the way through.
Prepping the Chicken
Some southern cooks swear by using a variety of “soaks” or marinates hours before frying, but while this is worth a try if following a specific recipe that calls for it, using the chicken just as it is fresh cut with a “rub” of milk, butter, salt and pepper is often all that’s needed.
In going through the recipe of notes of many Southern cooks the new cook might find some frustration with the words “a bit”, “a pinch” or the truly frustration lack of notation next to an ingredient. What is needed without question is 6 large eggs, salt, 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, and freshly ground black pepper. A half-pound of cut chicken rounds off the recipe. Some cooks will have a few small differences here and there including adding at least a half-cup of cornstarch. Southern cooks of long ago did not use vegetable oil, for the skillet, Dutch oven, or fryer, but to satisfy modern palates it’s recommended.
Following the Recipe
Having the best cookware possible will come in handy in not making a mess while working on this recipe. Taking a large the eggs are beaten with a “pinch” of salt, and in another bowl the flour should be whisked with the cornstarch, crushed red pepper, and the ground black pepper. Drench or dip the chicken pieces in milk and then coat the piece of chicken in the flour mixture. In the skillet selected for the frying heat ¾ inch of oil to 360 degrees. Place the thicker and dark pieces in first and give them several minutes to cook before putting in smaller white meat pieces. Cook until golden brown.