Southern Fried Chicken

Mary Anne here. I’m writing this recipe to serve four, but double or even triple it to suit your needs. Deep frying has fallen out of favor in many circles thanks to the artery-clogging perils of trans-fats, BUT, while I agree that eating healthfully is good and eating fatty McBigMacs is bad, sometimes you’ve just gotta dig in and indulge in the forbidden fruit.

Besides, we don’t fry with lard anymore…or even shortening. The oils available today are much healthier, so, you know, I can rationalize the occasional foray into the pleasures of fried food and this old-school rendition of Southern Fried Chicken more than satisfies my cravings for crispy-crunchy goodness. The surprising scent and flavor of cinnamon complements the savory aspects one expects from this classic American dish.

It’d be a good idea to invest in a candy/deep fat thermometer for this. I found a great one by “Taylor” for $4. You can spend up to $25 for the fancier ones, but it isn’t often you’ll use this thermometer unless you’re an avid candymaker.

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Southern Fried Chicken
Serves 4

1 3 lb. whole chicken, cut up, rinsed and patted dry – $2.85
3 Teaspoons Kosher Salt, divided – stock
3 Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper, divided – stock
2 Teaspoons ground Cinnamon, divided – stock
3 Teaspoons Dry mustard, divided – stock
2 cups Buttermilk -$1.89
3 Tablespoons Dijon-Style Mustard – stock
3 cups all-Purpose flour – stock
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder – stock
3 Teaspoons Garlic Powder – stock
Vegetable, Canola, Peanut, or Olive Oil (I use a combination of whatever I have on hand) – stock
Grand Total assuming Stocked pantry: $4.74
Total Per Serving: – $1.19

Directions THE DAY BEFORE:
1. In a large Ziplock-type bag (1 gallon or larger), combine the Buttermilk, Dijon Mustard, 1 ½ Teaspoons dry mustard, 1 ½ Tablespoons Kosher Salt, 1 ¼ Teaspoons Black Pepper, and 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon.

2. Mush the ingredients all together until well combined. Add the chicken pieces and coat evenly. Seal the bag tight, squeezing out all of the air and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Directions DAY-OF:
3. When ready to fry, in a bowl large enough to accommodate the chicken pieces, mix the flour, Baking Powder, Garlic Powder, remaining Cinnamon, dry mustard and salt and pepper.

4. One by one, toss the chicken pieces into the flour mixture – don’t shake off the excess buttermilk marinade. Give the chicken a thick, healthy coat. (This is pretty messy, so keep any loitering neat-freaks out of the kitchen or they’ll spoil your fun!)

5. Allow the chicken to rest in the flour bowl at room temperature for 1 hour. Tip: Before frying be sure there aren’t any “wet spots” or the crust won’t stick. Reapply the flour coat where needed before proceeding.

6. In a large, deep skillet pour the oil to about 1 ½ inch depth. Attach the thermometer after positioning its tip so that it doesn’t make contact with the bottom of the skillet. Heat the oil over medium-high until the thermometer reaches 350 degrees.

7. Slowly add the chicken pieces, skin-side down and 2 at a time, to maintain the temperature of the oil. (It will drop as you add the chicken, but if you do it gradually you should be able to maintain a temp of about 285 to 300 degrees. Oil will bubble around the chicken.

8. Once all of the pieces have safely made their way into the skillet, cover with a large lid to fit and continue cooking for about 7 to 8 minutes. Keep an eye on the thermometer and adjust the flame to maintain the temperature of the oil.

9. Remove lid, turn each piece with a pair of tongs and continue frying, uncovered an additional 7 to 8 minutes.

10. Continue turning the chicken pieces until both sides are golden brown and when pricked near the bone, the juices run clear. All but the wings will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes in total frying time. The wings require a slightly briefer plunge: about 10 to 15 minutes.

11. Drain on paper towels placed over wire racks.

12. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature. The chicken is moist and tender no matter how you serve it. Happy Memorial Day!

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