The night Julia Child came to dinner
Southern fried chicken served as the centerpiece. And Julia helped herself to seconds.
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You have to season the chicken well. I use an old method of making a chicken shake – my own seasoning blend that I mix up in batches and sprinkle on the chicken before flouring.Skip to next paragraph
The Runaway Spoon
Perre Magness has studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France has broadened her own culinary skill and palate. The kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.
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The grease needs to start hot and stay hot. And it should be shortening, maybe with some bacon grease thrown in. The chicken needs to be left alone with the grease to come to an understanding.
For the Chicken Shake:
This makes much more than is needed for one batch of chicken but will store in airtight container. It is also a great seasoning for hamburgers or for any chicken – grilled or oven-fried – that you make.
4 tablespoons sweet paprika
4 tablespoons kosher salt
4 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Measure all the spices into a small bowl and whisk to combine. Store in an airtight jar, preferably one with a shaker top.
For the Chicken:
Feel free to cut up the chicken yourself, though I always get the folks at the store to do it for me. You can fry as many batches of chicken as you want, just clean out any bits from the grease, add more shortening and bring the grease back up to temperature
1 whole cut up fryer chicken, eight pieces of chicken
2 – 3 cups buttermilk
Several shakes of hot sauce
Place the chicken parts in a large ziptop bag (or two). Pour over the buttermilk to cover the chicken completely. Shake in some good hot sauce and lightly shake the bag around to cover all the chicken pieces and distribute the hot sauce. Place the bag on a tray or plate to catch any spills and refrigerate overnight.
A couple of hours before you are ready to fry, take the chicken out of the fridge and place the pieces on a rack over a sheet pan. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken liberally with the chicken shake. Be very generous. Let the chicken sit so it begins to come closer to room temperature. Shortly before frying, scoop a generous amount of flour into a paper sack or a plastic bag. Place each chicken piece in the flour and shake it around to coat it with flour. Get in there with your hands to sprinkle and press flour onto all the crevices and parts of the chicken. Pick up each piece and shake off any loose flour and place back on the rack. Flour all the chicken pieces.
Scoop the shortening into a large, high-sided cast iron skillet set over medium high heat. Allow the shortening to melt and the hot grease to heat to 325 degrees F. Increase the heat under the skillet slightly, then add the chicken pieces. Put the thighs in the middle of the pan and the breasts and the legs around the outside. Fry the chicken until golden brown on the first side, about 12 minutes before you even think about turning it over. Check a few times to make sure the oil is still around 325 degrees F., and adjust the heat accordingly. Flip the chicken – it should be easy to do with no resistance or sticking. If not, leave it another minute or so. Cook on the second side for another 12 minutes without moving. The chicken should be crispy and brown and cooked through – that’s 170 degrees F., internal temperature. Remove the cooked chicken to a clean rack set over a pan to drain. Do not use the same one you had the raw chicken on unless it has been thoroughly cleaned
Serve hot, at room temperature or cold.
Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Buttermilk Pecan Chicken with Herbed Gravy
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