August 29, 2009

A Real Southerner's Southern Fried Chicken

A Real Southerner's Southern Fried Chicken

When it comes to fried chicken in the south, fat content isn't an issue. We're talking about an area where salt pork (or fatback) is a treat with cornbread. If you want healthy, run far away from this recipe. If you want knock-your-socks-off fried chicken, this is the one. KFC, Popeye's, and Church's wish their chicken was this good.

This is from a real southern grandma. Not some made up persona to market a recipe, but a real Arkansas grandma that never bought into the lure of fast food chicken. She believed that the kitchen was the heart of the family and her food was a testament to that belief.

This recipe takes time, as all amazing things do. It's worth it.

Arkansas Grandma's Authentic Southern Fried Chicken


4-5 lbs. chicken parts
4 cups salt brine (recipe below)
1½ cups buttermilk
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground sage
1 cup flour (to dredge the chicken)
Oil or shortening to fill skillet ½ inch deep


1. Make the salt brine by dissolving 1/2 cup salt in 4 cups of cold water.

2. Place chicken parts in a large glass bowl, add enough salt brine to cover, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to soak overnight.

3. The next day, drain off the salt brine and add 1½ cups buttermilk to the bowl. Allow the chicken to soak in the buttermilk for a couple of hours (or until ready to cook) turning the chicken several times to make sure all the pieces get to soak.

4. To make the breading: Add salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and sage to 1 cup of flour.

5. In a very large, heavy skillet, add vegetable oil or shortening to ½ deep, and heat over a medium flame. Be careful of overheating or you'll burn the flour coating, but if the oil isn't hot enough it will soak into the coating (making it greasy). Test the temperature by dropping a pinch of flour into the hot oil. If it sizzles right away without smoking, it's perfect.

6. Dredge each piece of the buttermilk-coated chicken in the seasoned flour and place them skin side down in the skillet. Do not to crowd the pieces in the pan to achieve the best all-over crispiness.

7. Cover the pan with a loose fitting lid to vent some of the steam and cook to a deep golden brown (approx. 15 min.). Turn the chicken over with tongs and cook an additional 15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Chicken is done if the juices run clear and there is no sign of pink near the bone.

8. Drain the cooked chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Serve on a warm platter.

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