Culinary conquests, part ii: chicken that tastes like bacon

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


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.


5 Responses to “Culinary conquests, part ii: chicken that tastes like bacon”

  1. 1 carla May 18, 2009 at 7:26 am

    I used “latte arabo”, Arabic milk, from that little Middle Eastern shop instead of buttermilk. I have no idea what it was, but it seemed to work…
    I can’t believe you were frying for an hour and a half! Sounds like it came out pretty good, I bet the country ham was even better than the pancetta I used to use. The best part was eating the deep-fried bacon afterwards.

  2. 2 Carl Tashian May 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I see that you finally found a use for at least some of that frozen lard and ham…


  3. 3 j gold May 27, 2009 at 4:23 am

    I do the Edna chicken once a year for my Fourth of July party, goosing the porkiness even more by using lard rendered in the process of carnitas-making. Spoonbread, collards, sweetcorn, melon salad, white nectarine cobbler – I look forward to this meal all year. The chicken is beyond good, although you can hear arteries hardening from across the room. There is always something evil about plopping a stick of butter into a panful of bubbling lard.

    But you left out the best part: the cook’s bonus of frizzled, ultrafried country ham bits left behing in the pan.

  4. 4 winyang May 27, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Carla and Jonathan,

    After frying for an hour and a half, my country ham was pretty much just an incinerated chunk of protein. Plus, it wasn’t even a real slice of ham — a friend gave me 6 lbs of ham and bacon scraps from Benton’s, all mostly fat or rind.

  1. 1 Fat is flavor Trackback on June 24, 2009 at 3:06 pm

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