The food of your childhood is always the best, and my mother’s fried chicken was absolutely world class.
We had chicken every Sunday, and it didn’t come from a store, but from our own backyard. It was a gruesome task, dressing a chicken, but we were country people and lived off the land. The meat was amazing, you simply can’t get farm raised chickens now unless you find a grower and pay a premium price, but with a few tips as to how Mother made her chicken, I’m sure that yours will turn out very well.
The first thing she did was to soak the chicken pieces overnight in buttermilk. She always cut the breasts so that there was a “wishbone” and it was the most tender, coveted part of the chicken.
She would heat lard in a black iron skillet, which is a tricky thing, because iron heats so quickly, that when you put your chicken pieces in to fry, you turn it down to medium or even medium low, or your chicken will brown too quickly and by the time it’s cooked it will burn.
She would salt and pepper the chicken, wet from being soaked in the buttermilk, and then put it in a brown paper sack and shake it until coated, then drop it piece by piece into the hot fat.
Here’s how she cooked it, resulting in the best chicken you’ve ever eaten:
She always let her fat get really hot before putting in the chicken, if you don’t, it will stick to the skillet and the crust pulls away from the chicken.
She never put a lid on it when it was frying, this steams the chicken and results in a soggy, not crisp crust.
She turned it often, very often, like every 5 minutes, taking the wings and legs out first and blotting them on a folded paper sack, we didn’t have paper towels in those days.
She cooked the breasts for approximately 35-45 minutes until a deep golden brown, remember, keep turning
The best part, drain the skillet of all but 2-3 tablespoons of fat drippings, stir in 2-3 tablespoons of flour, salt, pepper and cook until a very light brown, then stir in milk, approximately two cups, stirring constantly so that it doesn’t lump. Today we use a whisk, she always used a wooden spoon. Cook until thick, add more milk if needed, or if the gravy seems thin, just cook it down to the right consistency.
Black iron continues to cook after it’s removed from the heat, you may need to add a bit more milk to the gravy before stirring.
And that’s it, the recipe for the best fried chicken you will ever eat.
Enjoy… ~ Jan