For the second installment of the supper club, besides lemon meringue pie, I thought it’d also be a good opportunity to try my hand at fried chicken. Who wants to make the house smell like fried for just four people? Who cares that I’ve never fried anything before? Well, that’s not exactly true, but it is mostly.
It was suggested that I do a trial run first, but Carla, who has made the recipe for me before (not to mention, in her little kitchen in Italy) assured me that it was straightforward and didn’t even require a thermometer.
The recipe, of course, is the Edna Lewis/Scott Peacock fried chicken from The Gift of Southern Cooking — perhaps the most stained book in my cookbook library. It’s not a very demanding recipe laborwise, but you do need lots of time: 12 hours for brining, 12 hours to soak the chicken pieces in buttermilk (Carla, where did you manage to get buttermilk in Bra?). And then they just get a roll in seasoned flour, with a little cornstarch for crunch. All the steps thusfar ensure that the chicken is impregnated with flavor and retains succulence through cooking, but it’s the frying fat that probably makes this
THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN EVER.
A pound of lard and a stick of butter make the chicken crispy, but it’s the piece of country ham that sits in the pan all through frying that gooses the chicken with a little porky goodness (yeah, that’s right: I used three animals in one clause). Someone even asked if there were bacon in the chicken.
Also, fried chicken is easy. The frying part takes only about 10 minutes per piece (which meant that, with the 10″ Lodge skillet and 32 pieces of chicken, I fried for about an hour and a half), and you can tell by looking when the fat is at the right temperature or needs more or less flame. Even cleanup wasn’t so bad. I waited for all the fat to solidify and then just scraped it into the trash.
Also, fried chicken is good. It is, in fact, one of the world’s perfect foods. Good thing it’s so easy to make.