Fried chicken, the king of Southern Soul Food, is so good it should probably be illegal. Crispy on the outside, juicy and flavorful on the inside, it’s probably the best recipe that has ever happened to chicken. In case it’s your first time making it, here are a couple tips to get you started:
- Marinate in buttermilk. This step is crucial to ensure tender and flavorful meat. If you can’t get your hands on buttermilk, use my substitute recipe: 1 part milk + 1 part yogurt + 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
- Fry in lard. It’s hands-down a superior frying fat for this recipe. Get over it.
- We are pan-frying not immersion-frying the chicken. That means that the hot oil/lard should only come about halfway up the sides of the chicken pieces, not cover them completely. The chicken will be turned over halfway through cooking.
- Oil temperature is key: if it’s is too hot, you’ll have a crispy, burnt exterior before the chicken is cooked through. If you have a thermometer, try to keep the oil heat between 320°F-350°F (160°-175°C)
- Don’t serve immediately. Let the fried chicken rest for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Eat with your hands! There’s nothing more hilarious to me than watching Italians try to tackle fried chicken with a fork and knife.
Southern Fried Chicken
- 1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons salt, divided
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups lard or frying oil (or a mix of the two)
- frying thermometer
Mix the buttermilk, 1 tablespoon salt and garlic in a large plastic container. Put the chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture and coat completely. Marinate overnight (at least 8 hours).
Place chicken pieces in a colander and let drain of excess buttermilk mixture.
In a large bowl, mix flour with 1 tablespoon salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper.
Heat the lard in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet on medium high heat until a pinch of flour starts to sizzle when dropped in the hot oil (but not so hot that the pan is smoking). If using a thermometer, make sure the oil temperature stays between 320°F-350°F (160°-175°C).
Coat the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, shaking to remove excess, then place in the hot oil. Fry on one side for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown, and then use tongs to turn the pieces over and fry for another 10-12 minutes, again until golden brown. Be careful to keep the oil hot enough to fry the chicken, but not so high as it burns the chicken.
Remove chicken from the pan and place on a rack over a cookie sheet or broiling pan for the excess oil to drain (do not drain on paper towels or they will stick to the chicken! Add more salt and pepper to taste. Let chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.