Delicious- but easy- Fried Chicken
Fried chicken is universally loved. I grew up eating it, as my mom and grandma both made it a few times a year, and my family’s favorite local restaurant was known for their fried chicken. My family loves friend chicken. But when it came time for me to learn to make it myself, it took me years of trial and error. My sweet husband happily ate all of my failures, but I think he’s glad we finally nailed down a recipe worth keeping. He and our son now request it on a weekly basis. And I am happy to oblige.
This recipe is simple and straightforward. I use an electric skillet to make it foolproof. I consider myself a fairly decent cook (most of the time anyway), but for some reason, finding and maintaining the perfect temperate to fry chicken in a cast iron skillet on a gas range is a skill I apparently do not have. If you do possess said skill, by all means, use a cast iron skillet. I use cast iron for literally everything I cook, except this recipe. My electric skillet is only used for frying chicken, but it is well worth the cupboard space it takes up.
As always, don’t get hung up on exact measurements. This is flexible. It’s the method more than the amounts that matters. A bonus to this recipe is that you can reuse leftover flour and fat for the next time you fry chicken.
You will need:
2-3lbs chicken pieces (bone-in or boneless, whatever your family prefers)
2 c all purpose flour
1 c arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
2 T seasoned salt (whatever your favorite is, I use a homemade herb salt blend)
1.5-2 c buttermilk or plain yogurt (I prefer yogurt as it lends itself to a thicker crust)
Lard and tallow, for frying*
In a large bowl, place your chicken pieces, sprinkle 1 T of the salt over them, and then add buttermilk or yogurt and stir together with your hands to coat all the chicken pieces. Cover the bowl and chill 4 hours or overnight. I typically mix up the chicken, salt, and yogurt in the morning on the day I want to fry it for dinner.
About an hour before you’re ready to fry, remove bowl from the fridge and let come to room temperature. Add flour, arrowroot, and remaining salt to a large ziplock bag. Add chicken pieces to flour mixture, close bag, and shake to coat chicken. Turn your electric skillet to 375 degrees. Add enough lard or tallow to cover the bottom of the pan 3/4 inch deep. When the fat has reached the correct temperature, slowly add chicken pieces, being mindful to not overcrowd them. For 3lbs of chicken in the skillet I use, this typically means I have about 3 batches to fry. Let chicken cook until golden brown, typically about 5-7 minutes on each side, depending how thick or whether your pieces contain the bone. Flip once and fry the second side. Remove to a wire rack over a plate, to let any excess fat drip off and to keep chicken extra crisp.
When you’re done, you can close the ziplock bag with flour and place in the freezer to use next time. You can also strain any leftover lard, once its mostly cooled, and place it in the fridge for later.
This recipe is not only excellent the day it is prepared, but it makes great leftovers. We typically make this on Saturday nights, and then have the leftovers the following day for lunch. They are great either cold or warmed up. We also make a quick dipping sauce whenever I cook boneless chicken pieces, using equal parts honey to spicy mustard. I don’t measure this, just eyeball and tweak to your liking.
*I know lard got a bad rap for a while. As with anything, moderation is key. I do not use hydrogenated or vegetable oils whatsoever in my kitchen. I’ve tried using coconut oil for this recipe, and have decided lard or tallow is our favorite. Use what you prefer, but consider the quality of the fat before making a decision.