Southern Fried Chicken
When my niece first told us she was coming to L.A. for a visit last summer, the boys and I quickly made a list of things to do and places to eat. There’s certainly no shortage of tourist attractions or dining experiences in the City of Angels but the boys wanted to find the perfect spot to please their Southern cousin. They decided on The Ivy, not because it’s a paparazzi-heavy celebrity hangout, but because they have great fried chicken.
Fried chicken is a dish that has well stood the test of time…through generations of change and tradition. There’s a reason this comfort food can be found on menus from roadside diners to fine dining, and for a Southerner, it’s a dish that celebrates mothers, grandmothers and generations of cast-iron cooks.
We had a wonderful afternoon at The Ivy. Michelle ate every bite of her lunch. She said it was the best fried chicken she had ever eaten. What I didn’t tell her was that many years ago, before she was born, I had the best fried chicken I had ever eaten, on a homemade biscuit packed in a brown paper bag cooked by her MeMaw in Alabama.
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To save time, use boneless, skinless breasts. They’ll cook faster than thighs or drumsticks and there’s no cutting or chopping involved. You’ll have plenty of seasoned buttermilk left over, so buy extra breasts and fry them for chicken sandwiches tomorrow.
1 ½ cups canola oil
1 quart buttermilk
3 tablespoons Tabasco Sauce
1 tablespoon salt plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or your favorite cut of chicken)
In a large cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil over medium heat until lightly smoking or until it reads 375°F on a candy thermometer.
In a medium bowl, mix together buttermilk, Tabasco, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper. In a pie pan, mix together flour, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper.
Dip the chicken pieces first into the buttermilk mixture and then roll them in the flour mixture until they’re completely coated.
Gently place each piece in the hot oil and fry for about 4 minutes. Turn with tongs and fry another 4 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove the chicken from the pan and drain on paper towels until ready to serve. You may also hold the fried chicken in a warm oven if the rest of the meal is not yet complete.
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
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