Fried Chicken

I grew up in Ohio, but my mother’s side of the family was from the hills of Kentucky. Many of my relatives remained in Kentucky and West Virginia while I was growing up. I have fond memories of long car trips south to see Aunt Birdie, Betty Jo, Hump and Mill, Tootsie, Lilly and Otha. Wonderful, odd, very southern and always hospitable. They loved my mom and therefore all of us. The one that sticks out in my culinary memory the most is Curt Blair. Curt was Aunt Birdie’s husband. He was big as a house and used to grab my knee and make me squirm. He was a produce man and was the first man I know that cooked. The traditional dishes for breakfast in Curt Blair’s kitchen included fried chicken. As I was growing up I thought everyone ate fried chicken for breakfast. This is NOT Curt Blair’s fried chicken; that recipe left with him and that is probably for the best. I’m sure that the ingredients and the kind of chicken that he used are both long gone, too.

This recipe is every bit as good as my memories of those visits to Huntington. This comes from my wife’s side of the family so there are a few Kansas type touches, but trust me, just go along with it. This is not something I suggest you eat very often, but the occasional treat is extremely pleasurable. Also, it is a lot of work. Pick a weekend day or holiday like today and enjoy the process. It is well worth it.

Ingredients

  • Whole Organic Chicken, in pieces (8)
  • Buttermilk
  • Corn Flake Crumbs (yes, Kelloggs)
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Crisco
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 2 Dashes Tabasco Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • 1 Large Mixing Bowl
  • 2 Shallow Bowls
  • Large, Deep, Heavy Pan
  • Large Serving Tray
  • Paper Towels
  • Tongs
  1. In a large Bowl, fill with buttermilk. You want just enough to cover all of the pieces of chicken. Add Paprika, tabasco and a good amount of salt and pepper and stir.
  2. Soak the chicken pieces in the buttermilk, covered and refrigerated for at least 6 hours.
  3. Combine equal parts corn flake crumbs and flour in a shallow bowl. Add salt and plenty of pepper. The amounts really don’t matter as you will replenish this at least once.
  4. In another shallow bowl add two whole eggs and about a cup of milk and mix together. You will also replenish this at least once.
  5. Remove a piece of chicken from the buttermilk mixture and dredge through the dry ingredients, coating well.
  6. Dredge through the egg mixture.
  7. Dredge once again through the dry mixture and sit aside. When the dry mixture starts to get clumpy, replace with more. Use a new bowl if necessary. Same with the egg mixture. The idea is to get a thick, even coat of crust on the chicken pieces.
  8. Repeat until all of the chicken is coated.
  9. Heat enough crisco in a pan so there is about an inch of oil. The amount will depend on the size of your pan. 
  10. Once the oil has been heating over a medium, high flame for a few minutes flick a few drops of water into it. If they sizzle it is ready. If you want to be scientific, the oil should be between 325 and 350.
  11. Carefully drop a few pieces of chicken in the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan.
  12. Let them fry for 10-12 minutes then turn. Same for the other side.
  13. Remove to a tray with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  14. Repeat until all of the chicken is cooked.
I always recommend organic whenever possible and affordable. I feel that it is especially important with this dish. You want really good tasting chicken. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort.
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