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Southern Fried Chicken

Posted on December 19, 2011.


Fried chicken is one of those dishes that are too often taken for granted. How difficult can it be? You flour up some chicken and throw it the fryer. But really good fried chicken is very hard to make, which is why you rarely hear anyone tell you about the restaurant that made best fried chicken they ever ate. Instead they will tell you how great their mother´s fried chicken is, or talk about their aunt or grandmothers secret fried chicken recipe. That is because making great fried chicken requires the right mixture of love, patience and hard work that only comes from someone who really cares about the people they are cooking for.

My mother made a great fried chicken using a buttermilk batter. My mother-in-law Betty also makes a great fried chicken; however, she doesn´t use a batter dip. Her secret is in how you flour the chicken. She also cuts the chicken into smaller pieces, which allows the chicken to cook more evenly. My recipe is a blend of the recipes from the two loving mothers in my life.

Beyond the basic recipe and ingredients, making great fried chicken depends on timing and temperature. You need to make sure you have the oil and the chicken at the right temperature before you start the frying process. I highly recommend using a good oil thermometer to verify the temperature. You also need to separate your dark and white meats and cook them separately. Dark meat takes slightly longer to cook and the white meat will lose its moisture if it is cooked to long.


1 whole chicken, cut in pieces (cut breasts and thighs in half)
1 quart of buttermilk
3 sprigs each of fresh thyme, sage, oregano and parsley
1 small onion coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
4 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons granulated onion
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 cups vegetable oil

For the chicken rub:
2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt


Cut the chicken into pieces. If the breasts and thighs are small to medium sized, cut them in half. If they are larger you should cut them into thirds or quarters. Wash chicken thoroughly for at least 5 minutes to remove any excess fluids. Be careful to not cause cross contamination by splashing the chicken residue on your counters (I always spray my sink with a diluted bleach mixture after removing the chicken).

Lightly rub chicken with granulated onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Place the chicken, chopped onions, smashed garlic cloves, and sprigs of herbs in a plastic food storage bag and pour in the buttermilk and Tabasco sauce. Shake it up and let stand at least 8 hours in refrigerator.

Remove the chicken and set aside, discarding the buttermilk and herb mix. Let stand at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes (the objective is to bring the meat close to room temperature before attempting to fry so that it cooks evenly).

In a bowl or bag, thoroughly mix the flour, granulated onion, garlic powder, black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper.

Flour each piece of chicken and let stand until the moisture starts to seep through the flour (the surface of the chicken will start to appear wet). This will take approximately 5-8 minutes.

Flour each piece of chicken again and let stand until the chicken starts to appear wet (about 5 minutes). The chicken is now ready to be fried.

Fill cast iron skillet 3-4 inches high with oil and heat on high flame at 340 degrees. It is recommended that you use an oil thermometer to maintain the grease temperature before each batch of chicken is placed in the oil.

Starting with the dark meat, place chicken in oil. Turn constantly until golden brown (about 15-18 minutes for the dark meat, 12-14 minutes for the white meat).

Remove chicken and place on paper towel to dry. Make sure you test at least one large piece for doneness before serving by cutting it open to the bone. There should be no evidence of blood or redness in the meat. Lightly dust with salt and fresh ground pepper.


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Posted By: Chief Foodie Officer