Southern Fried Chicken
- Yield 8 servings
- Prep 20 mins
- Cook 70 mins
Use authentic ingredients for an authentic taste.
Soaking the chicken in salt water—or brining—is a trick all good Southern cooks use. Many say it’s the key to the flavor and tenderness of their fried chicken. For a ham flavor, country ham is simmered with the fat. You can substitute 2 cups vegetable oil for the lard.
- 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon, salt, divided
- 6 cups water
- 3 pounds chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 1 pound lard
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup country ham pieces, or 1 thick slice country ham cut into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Combine 1/2 cup salt and water in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken; seal bag and marinate in refrigerator 8 hours. Drain. Combine chicken and buttermilk in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours. Drain on a wire rack.
- Combine lard, butter and ham in a heavy skillet. Cook over low heat, skimming as needed, until butter stops foaming and ham is browned, about 30 minutes. Remove ham with a slotted spoon. Increase heat to medium-high and heat fat to 335F.
- Combine flour, cornstarch, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper on a piece of wax paper.
- Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture; tap well to remove excess.
- Working in batches, place chicken, skin side down, into heated fat. Do not crowd. Cook until chicken is golden brown and cooked, 10 to 12 minutes per side. Pierce with a fork; if juices run clear, chicken is done. Remove and drain thoroughly on a wire rack or crumpled paper towels.
Recipe adapted from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s The Gift of Southern Cooking (Knopf, 2003).