My Dad’s favorite meal my Grandma’s was her fried chicken. It’s the stuff of legend. It took my Dad 40+ years to be able to fry chicken that rivaled Grandma’s. Knowing that he won’t be around for ever, especially at the rate of which he eats fried chicken, preserving this legacy was the impetus for this blog and the culinary exploration of our family’s history through food.
We followed my Dad’s recipe for our first fried chicken dinner. I guess you could call him our sensei. A southern sensei.
To perfect our fried chicken skills we have enlisted the help of some hungry friends. Which victims we choose will vary with most dinners. For our first dinner we invited Kristin, Bryce and Tim over for our southern style chicken and sides.
We quickly learned why it takes decades of practice to master the art of frying chicken. The oil temperature throttles is way from scorching hot to lukewarm, and back again. We added a secret ingredient to keep our moods in check: beer, pictured above. Jack Morris wouldn’t have it any other way.
Keeping the oil a consistent temperature is going to take some time. By the end of the evening, Stefanie, the fry master, had it (somewhat) down. We took some advice from the Barefoot Contessa (a hard-working lady, as my Dad would say) and fried the chicken mostly through, then finished it in the oven. When our frying skills improve, this step will not be necessary.
In the end, the fried chicken was a huge success. Despite getting off to a rocky start (and one batch of extra, extra crispy that was a sacrifice to the chicken gods), we finished strong. The chicken was moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside, just like a certain southern sensei. Our friend will definitely be back for more. Diets be banned, Tim.
Jack’s Fried Chicken
1 (3-4 pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces
2 t salt
1 t cayenne
1 t garlic (the dried spice, not fresh)
1 t cumin
1 t curry
5 dashes Tabasco
1 C well-shaken buttermilk
3 C vegetable oil
3 C all-purpose flour
Mix spices together in a bowl. Add chicken to bowl and toss to coat evenly. Cover with plastic and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Remove the chicken, place into a clean bowl and add buttermilk.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (cast iron preferred) to 350 degrees, or until a pinch of flour sizzles when dropped into the oil.
Meanwhile, remove the chicken from buttermilk, allowing excess liquid to drop off, and transfer to a clean bowl. Add the flour and toss to coat. When the oil is ready, add the chicken pieces. Fry 6 minutes per side for drumsticks and 6 1/2 minutes per side for thighs. Do not crowd the chicken in the pan – maybe 4 or 5 pieces at a time.