Southern fried chicken
( SERVES 4 )
When I recently asked some American chefs the secret to great fried chicken, a furious debate ensued. Some argued for first soaking the chicken in buttermilk, others in plain milk and another group made a compelling case for a simple salt brine, which is what I have used here. It is useful to keep the salt brine in mind before roasting your next chicken. The results are nothing short of outstanding. The only thing the chefs were united in was that the chicken needed to be served with coleslaw and mashed potatoes and washed down with tall glasses of iced tea garnished with lemon and mint.
- Combine the salt and water in a bowl, add the chicken pieces (free-range chicken drumsticks, skin on and free-range chicken thighs, skin on, bone in), cover and refrigerate for 2-8 hours. This will help tenderise the meat. Drain the chicken and pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper.
- Heat the vegetable oil and lard in a deep pot or cast-iron pan to 180C. Sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt and cayenne pepper over the chicken.
- Put the rest of the salt, cayenne pepper and flour in a zip-lock bag and shake to combine. Place the chicken pieces in the bag one at a time and shake to coat.
- Drop each piece of chicken into the hot oil, skin side down.
- Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 6 minutes, then uncover and cook for a further 9 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally during the last 3 minutes to ensure even cooking.
- Remove from the oil to a tray lined with absorbent kitchen paper and serve immediately.