Happy Independence Day America…and please enjoy my fried chicken!

This recipe was given to me by a very dear, departed friend. There are sometimes people we come across who live by principle, and that runs so deeply in their character that they are as solid as granite. This woman was one of them. She stood up for me at a juncture in my life when even my own family did not, did so publicly, and did so at cost to herself. That, for me, is what independence is all about. On a personal level, she embodied the independence of spirit that this country was founded for. So, today, I raise a glass to her, and think of the great example she set.

It is hard not to want to enjoy fried chicken with grits or biscuits, with collard greens, or a nice salad. By all means do, though they are plenty good to eat on their own.

For 8 drumsticks, or a whole chicken, use:

  • 1 chicken, about 1 ½ kgs or the equivalent in drumsticks or other parts
  • 1 quart of buttermilk or alternate
  • 2 cups of plain white flour
  • 2 tablespoons of celery salt (Jane’s Mixed up Salt will do nicely)
  • 2 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Soak drumsticks or whichever you wish overnight in buttermilk; a whole chicken should yield 10 pieces.  Choose a young bird, leaner, less plump.  If you can’t get buttermilk, you can use Keffir or yoghurt diluted with milk, or you can make your own buttermilk by squeezing lemon juice into milk and letting it sit a few hours.

Afterwards toss in a brown paper bag with flour, salt and pepper, and paprika.  If you use a plastic bag, you need to blow into it to inflate it, then spin the bag to trap the air pocket before swirling and tossing it all around to coat.  Makes a wonderfully shaggy coat.  You will need to season more than you might if you were seasoning the dish directly, as it is a diffuse medium—particularly with salt.

Fry in Crisco, peanut oil, or avocado oil mixed with a little bacon fat in very hot oil until it stops bubbling, about 20-25 minutes.  Fry first on one side for about 15 and then flip for the last ten, using tongs that won’t scrape or break the crust.

The chicken should never be poked or the oil will get into the crust…better to turn it gently and do so often enough to ensure it doesn’t burn on one side. Drain on paper towels to let cool for about 5 minutes, and then serve. Enjoy–enough for 4 people.

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