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Fried Chicken Is a Food Group (January 3, 2017)

fried chicken

The January 1, 2017, New York Times Special Section "The Most Read, Shared & Viewed Stories of 2016" featured a delicious article entitled "Fried Chicken and Tomato Sauce: The Two Major Food Groups."

Well, having been born and raised in the American south, I can certainly agree with fried chicken as a food group! (We also agree that a great tomato sauce is a basic staple as well... and will let you in on that secret in another column!)

But moving back to chicken, the Times printed a Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe that is almost the same as our old favorite in The Best of Southern Living Cookbook, which is as close to my childhood dreams of the dish as possible!

Sam Sifton, the founding editor of NYT Cooking and food writer for the Sunday Times Magazine as well as the author of Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well, says "For a remarkably simple dish, fried chicken can be controversial. The are debates over brining the meat (yes, you should). People argue over what starch is used to coat the chicken, about the fat used to fry it, about the temperature at which it cooks. But really all you want is what the great Southern chef Bill Neal called '‘chicken that tastes like chicken, with a crust that snaps and breaks with fragility.'"

And no one does it better this way than the fried chicken recipe in The Best of Southern Living Cookbook. This treasured magazine of Dixie has more than 500 truly southern recipes including anything with grits, the true key lime pie and our personal favourite, coconut cake. But moving along...

Herewith, Southern Living's Our Best Fried Chicken.

And yes, it really is!

Makes 4 servings

Prep: 10 minutes
Chill: 8 hours
Need: electric skillet or heavy cast iron skillet and thermometer
Fry: 30 minutes

  • 3 quarts water*
  • 1 Tbsp salt*
  • 1 (2 to 2½ pound) whole chicken, cut up
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 tsp pepper, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup bacon drippings
  1. Combine 3 quarts water and 1 Tbsp salt in a large bowl; add chicken. Cover and chill 8 hours. NOTE: You may substitute 2 cups buttermilk for the saltwater solution used to soak the chicken pieces, if desired,
  2. If brining in water, drain chicken; rinse with cold water and pat dry. If brining in buttermilk, drain off the excess, set chicken aside on plate.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper over chicken.
  4. Combine flour, remaining 1/2 tsp salt and remaining 1/2 tsp pepper in a large freezer bag. Place 2 pieces of chicken in bag; seal and shake to coat. Remove chicken and repeat procedure with remaining pieces.
  5. Combine vegetable oil and bacon drippings in an electric skillet; heat to 350°F; if using a cast iron skillet, heat the oil to 350°F.
  6. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, skin side down. Cover and cook 6 minutes; uncover and cook 9 more minutes. Turn chicken pieces; cover and cook 6 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 to 9 more minutes, turning pieces during the last 3 minutes for even browning, if necessary. Drain on paper towels.

Tony's wine recommendation:
White Burgundy; Ontario Chardonnay; Soave


We wish to thank the following for permission to use material from and quote from:

Raincoast Books, Vancouver and Oxmoor House, Inc., for The Best of Southern Living Cookbook. © 2008 Oxmoor House, Inc.

Quotes from the NYTimes:


Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (133 kB)

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Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Helen Hatton and Ron Morris at Le Caveau des Gourmets in Gigondas




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