Ahh, I needed to say that. Now I can write to you about more important things: Esther's Fried Chicken. Esther is my grandmother's cook. She's a tall, soft-spoken women of my grandmother's generation. And she's been frying chicken since my mother was in diapers.
Until last Thursday when I went to my grandmother's for dinner, I always thought of fried chicken as a breaded affair. Some thick and crumbly. Delicious, but not for the faint of heart. Esther has changed all that and I'm starting to think that all the breaded chickies we see isn't what fried chicken was originally. Esther is of the old Southern tradition and I'm going to believe her when she says "season the chicken first, shake it in a bag with a little flour and fry it up slow."
That's it. That's all Esther did and lemme tell you everyone from baby girl to my grandmother ate in silent ecstasy. The outside is crispy and crunchy all around with an extra special crunch around the skin. And, with every bite there is actually moist chicken. I'm use to eating the breading first, but this version is all about the chicken. Esther's recommendation to season the chicken first also means that the chicken is bright and spiced.
I was so inspired that I decided to make it this weekend for the hubby since he wasn't down in Virginia with us last week. I picked up a whole chicken cut into parts from Dickson's Farmstand, I seasoned it with some sweet paprika, salt and pepper and then shook it in a plastic bag (rather than the paper one I'm sure Esther used) with just a touch of flour. Frying chicken doesn't mean submerging it in oil - well not entirely anyway. I cooked it in vegetable oil slowly like Esther said. The results? AMAZING!!! I was worried since it looked like all the flour was going to wash off in the oil, but instead it provide a light coating so that the chicken could get crunchy all around without weighing it down.
Esther's Fried Chicken
(This is a great every-so-often Sunday dinner. While it doesn't taste at all greasy, I still wouldn't recommend frying anything too often:) And in the great Southern tradition, my grandmother recommends making this for a picnic with some potato salad and deviled eggs.)
What You'll Need:
1 Whole Chicken cut into breasts, thighs and drumsticks (reserve the backs, wings and neck for stock)
Set a large frying pan over a medium heat and add enough vegetable oil to cover a third of the chicken's height. Bring to a shimmer.
Pat the chicken pieces dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper all around. Then sprinkle lightly with paprika.
Add about three tablespoons of flour to a plastic freezer bag and, working one piece at a time, shake the chicken in the bag until it's well coated. Remove the chicken from the bag and tap it lightly to remove any excess flour.
Test the oil with one piece of chicken. There should be a nice sizzle. Add all the pieces skin-side down and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook another 10 minutes. Keep flipping the chicken until a thermometer reads 180. It took me about 35-40 minutes. If the chicken browns too quickly turn the heat down a bit. You want a nice steady cook and golden brown chicken. Remove the chicken to a plate of paper towels.
To serve, place the chicken on a platter and serve it family style. That night, we had baked beans and a lovely green salad. Enjoy!!
Approximate Cost:Groceries: $20
Cost per Meal: Expect four to five servings from this one.