Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Southern fried chicken is one of American classic dishes. Before it became a culinary habit in the Southern United States, fritters had already existed in Europe since medieval time. The Scots, and later Scottish immigrants to many southern states had a tradition of deep frying chicken in fat, unlike their English counterparts who baked or boiled chicken. According to wikipedia, there is also evidence of deep frying in West Africa. It is uncertain if deep frying existed in that region before European contact.

In Southern United States, these chicken pieces are traditionally cooked in lard. The authentic Southern Fried Chicken is cooked in an iron spider or known as a black cast iron skillet. For a true Southern meal, save some of those pan drippings to make cream gravy. The chickens are served with mashed potatoes, cream gravy, corn on the cob or fried okra, and buttermilk biscuits. You might want to add a dish of sliced tomatoes in season too!

Just about every country has their own version of fried chicken. While Italy has pollo fritto, Vietnam has ga chien (of course it’s marinated with fish sauce).

As an Indonesian who spent most of my life in Java, I grew up with two different fried chickens. One was Ayam Goreng Kuning (yellow fried chicken), is flavoured with lemongrass, ginger, candlenuts and turmeric which gives it its ochre hue; while the other was Ayam Goreng Bacem (sweet fried chicken) made with coconut water, coconut or palm sugar, Indonesian bay (salam) leaves, and galangal among other herbs and spices. Both chicken dishes have to be braised together with the herbs and spices first before deep frying.

Speaking about reputation of Southern fried chicken, Colonel Sanders was the one who made this fried chicken become so popular all over the world.  He is the founder of one brand franchise fast food.  However, most of the franchise companies have to tweak their menu to where the restaurant is located to be accepted by locals.  In Indonesia, KFC is served with steamed rice for a choice beside french fries.  Ketchup is not the only condiment that we get; we have to have Indonesian hot sauce.   As Indonesians don’t drink too much sodas or pops, the food is also companied by Milo iced chocolate for kids and local brand iced tea beverages.

Here is my interpretation of Southern Fried Chicken which I twisted with Gillian Clark and Bobby Flay‘s recipe.

Southern Fried Chicken

Ingredients:
8 pieces chicken legs and thighs

Marinade:
3 1/4 cup (750 mL) low-fat buttermilk
6 cloves garlic, bruised and chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup Southern style hot sauce

Batter:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch (I substituted for potato starch)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1 3/4 cup cold water (about 4 degrees C)

3 cups canola oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Directions
For the marinade: Combine the buttermilk, salt, garlic, and hot sauce and stir well. Submerge the chicken pieces in the buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper until combined. Slowly whisk in the water and whisk until smooth.

Frying:

  • Heat the oil and butter over medium heat in a large skillet until the foaming of the butter begins to subside.
  • Take chicken pieces out of buttermilk mixture; one piece at a time. Let the excess buttermilk drip off. Transfer the chicken into the batter.  Then, remove the chicken, 1 piece at a time, from the batter (allowing any excess to drip back into the bowl) and carefully transfer to the oil by placing the chicken skin side down into the hot oil.
  • Adjust the burner as necessary to maintain the oil temperature between 300 and 325 F. Cook until nicely browned, 6 minutes per side.

Drain the chicken on paper towels, transfer to a wire rack and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. You should see the juices of a thigh or leg run clear when you pierce the chicken with a fork.

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About the Author

An Indonesian born who lives on the Prairie land of Canada. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.