Fried chicken is about as southern as you can get and thanks to the most famous Kentucky Colonel, Colonel Sanders, it's also very synonymous with Kentucky. We love fried chicken and I would say Kentuckians are connoisseurs of fried chicken and can tell you exactly what is wrong with a particular piece and what is right with it. Our assessment of fried chicken is similar to a Texans critique of a good steak Is it no wonder that the most famous fried chicken in the world started in Corbin, Kentucky?
I will tell you before I even go into my fried chicken, that my mother fries the best fried chicken ever. There is none to compare. She holds the title as the best chicken fryer anyone who has ever eaten her fried chicken knows, which is why I don't fry chicken a lot. I use her recipe and her method, but it is never as good as hers. My own family always tells me it is, but they have to eat my other food and want to continue to get it on a regular basis...lol. My chicken is very similar to my mothers and maybe after 50 or 60 years of practice I will also make the best, but not yet. I am sure some of you feel the same way about your own mother's or grandmother's fried chicken.
We usually fry the boneless breasts cut in strips or fingers, because we all like the white meat best (except my son who will wrestle you to the ground over a chicken leg) and the chicken cut in strips cooks up faster. Here is what you will need:
6-7 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in 3-4 strips each ( I used my kitchen shears)
2-3 cups buttermilk (enough to cover the chicken)
4 cups flour (I use White Lily self rising flour)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Lawry's chicken and poultry rub (my mother's secret ingredient for chicken)
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (my secret ingredient and I use Tony Chachere's)
oil for deep fryer or a deep dutch oven or pan ( We use canola oil, you can also use vegetable oil or peanut oil)
Cut your chicken breasts in strips, 3-4 for each breast. Place them all in a bowl and cover with the buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The buttermilk has a tenderizing effect on the chicken and also coats it and makes the breading stick perfectly.
Place the flour and all of the seasonings in a bowl with a tight fitting lid or a gallon size Ziploc bag. Mix together well. Four cups of flour might sound like a lot, but you cannot batter this much chicken with a cup or even 2 cups of flour like a lot of recipes call for. It just won't do it, the flour will get too wet and the last pieces of chicken will not get a good breading on them. If you are only frying about 4 chicken breasts, you can cut the flour and seasonings back accordingly. I fry a lot when I do fry it, because it never lasts long.
Place about 4 pieces of chicken at a time in the bowl or bag. Don't shake the milk off of the chicken. It will act to help the coating stick. Place the cover on the bowl or zip the bag up and shake the chicken pieces well.
After the first batch is breaded take it out shake it just a little to get the loose flour off and gently drop it into the oil. If you are using a deep fryer, heat the oil to 375 degrees and maintain that temperature. If you are using a Dutch oven or deep pan you might want to use a thermometer in the pan or if you are used to deep frying without a gage and can judge temperature that's fine. See how the oil bubbles and rolls when the chicken is placed in it. It should do that, but it shouldn't be smoking or smelling burnt. It's important to maintain the temperature and not get it too hot or the chicken will brown too fast and not cook on the inside. Depending on the size of your fryer or pan, cook in batches so that the pieces have plenty of room around them to get the best browning. Cook for about 7-8 minutes, turning once or twice in the oil for even browning.
Southern Fried Chicken!