Saturday, September 4, 2010

Perfect Fried Chicken: A Holiday Weekend Favorite

Well, almost perfect...there is the problem of the calories but since making fried chicken isn't or shouldn't be a weekly event let's pretend there aren't any and enjoy the dish for the pure Americanism of it this Labor Day weekend.

Actually, fried chicken has existed in Europe since the medieval times and fried chicken was evident in Italy and other countries before it became a staple in the Southern United States. The Scots, and later Scottish immigrants to the South, had a tradition of deep frying chicken in fat. Their English counterparts baked or boiled chicken.

When fried chicken came to the American South, it became an everyday or common meal. Later, the slaves who became cooks used seasonings and spices that were missing from the traditional Scottish cuisine, enriching the flavor. Since most slaves were unable to raise expensive meats, but generally allowed to keep chickens, frying chicken on special occasions spread through the African American communities of the South. It gradually passed into common use as a general Southern dish. Since fried chicken traveled well in hot weather before refrigeration was commonplace, it gained further favor in the periods of American history when segregation closed off most restaurants to the black population. Fried chicken continues to be among this region's top choices for "Sunday dinner" among both blacks and whites.

I had a great recipe a couple of years ago that I misplaced but I recently came across another and it seemed amazingly similar. To me, the key is buttermilk which is so sticky that the flour mixture adheres better. I used a low fat version to help with the calorie count.

Here's the recipe.

Perfect Fried Chicken
Preheat oven to 200 degrees

6 cups non fat buttermilk
1/3c coarse salt
1/2c Tabasco sauce
1 chicken cut into pieces
3c all-purpose flour
1 and a half teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons baking powder
vegetable oil for frying

  • Put buttermilk, salt and Tabasco in a container. Add chicken pieces and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Put flour and remaining dry ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag.
  • Add pieces on at a time and shake vigorously.
  • Shake off excess flour and drop into heated oil. Turn with tongs until golden on both sides.
  • Drain and transfer to large baking pan and bake for another 25 minutes.
  • Drain again on paper towels until ready to serve.
Over the Weekend: A Delightful Rosé Sangria

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