I was never particularly keen on American food. I had a food snob view that there can’t be anything else, other than fast food, coming from their continent. That perception was based on ignorance. Having spent some more time reading about their food, I realise that in actual fact, there are so many different influences that hit their kitchens. The one universal thing that comes out is that a lot of the recipes were also built around the family and the family get-togethers.
The recipe I’m doing today is one of those all-time favourites. It’s recipe that remind a lot of the Southerners of their mothers and grandmothers. Note that I’m talking about the home-made one. Good old Southern fried chicken.
Even though this is an American recipe, it’s one that made it onto our family list as a favourite and a reminder of our get-togethers. It made it onto our list because of cousin Heinrich’s wife, Ria. She always raves about it and sometimes there will be a request for it by someone in the family.
Now you have to be part of an Eybers lunch table to understand how these family gatherings are all built around food. It starts in the lounge, moves to the kitchen. Here we gather around, cooking together or having a good natter while someone else is working in the kitchen. That is just the beginning, with the whole party moving to the dining room table. This includes the dachshunds next to the table in their bed, merrily snacking on some dog nibbles.
Our family has a habit of gathering around that lunch table for hours on end, sometimes till dusk. And all along there will always be something to eat – even if it’s just a piece of cheese! Naturally accompanied by wine.
Above all, what is central to all these gatherings, are home cooked meals. Here, I am telling you that you can make your own Southern fried chicken. It will make it so much more special and appreciated if you do it yourself. It’s just a case of planning.
It doesn’t feature the 11 herbs and spices – as advertised by the giant Colonel franchise, but once you start mastering the recipe, you can adjust the seasoning to include your herbs and spices of choice.
I’m keeping this one closer to more original Southern fried chicken. I’ve just added sweet paprika for a touch of colour.
So come on, invite over some friends or family, make your own fried chicken and see them dive in to enjoy. And join me in my lesson that one shouldn’t jump to conclusions or make statements about things in ignorance. Rather find out first.
Serving: Freshen it up a bit and make it a nice sumptuous self-help lunch. Do this by serving with a large salad (with loads of textures), some wraps and the yoghurt lemony dipping sauce or dressing. This gives everyone a good excuse to eat the chicken with their hands. That is after all the best way to eat it.
The family fried chicken with dipping sauce
4 Leg & thigh Chicken quarters
(You can use any chicken cuts, just try and keep them more or less same size, so their cooking time is the same. I used the quarters, because I just like the look of it.)
Ingredients for marinade
1 Medium onion (thinly sliced)
3 Garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
4 tsp Coarse salt flakes (1 tsp per chicken cut)
Ingredients for frying
1 Cup of flour
½/1 tsp cayenne pepper (dependent on how hot you want the coating to be)
3 tsp Sweet paprika
2 tsp Salt
1 Cup of Vegetable/Canola oil
Sheet of wax paper, big enough to place all the chicken on.
*Why the buttermilk: The buttermilk softens the chicken quite a bit. The result is a very moist fried chicken.
Place the chicken in a bag that can seal (ie zip lock). You can also use a bowl and cover it well before it goes into the fridge.
Add all the marinade ingredients, seal properly and shake it up until the chicken is properly coated.
Now place the bag in a fridge for at least 8 hours to marinade. I normally do it the evening before a lunch and leave it in overnight. Meaning it gets more than 8 hours.
Place the flour, cayenne, paprika and salt in a bag (paper or plastic). Shake it up a bit to mix.
Now drain the first piece of chicken of the excess buttermilk. You don’t have to remove everything as you need something to make the flour stick.
Place it in the bag with seasoned flour, shake it to cover. Remove from the bag and place on the wax paper sheet.
You have to do each piece of chicken individually.
Leave the chicken on the wax paper sheet to come to room temperature (around ½ hour).
(The southerners will tell you that coating the chicken must be done in a paper bag. It does make a difference, as it doesn’t get all clotty, but you can do it in a plastic bag as well. Just shake up the flour after you’ve finished with each piece of chicken.)
Now heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan (one that has a tight fitting lid).
Your oil must be very hot, so that when you place the chicken into it, the coating sticks. Tip to test the oil: use the tip of a wooden spoon handle, place it in the oil, if it makes bubbles around the handle, it’s hot enough.
Carefully place the chicken pieces into the pan, one by one. Don’t crowd your pan, as your oil temperature will drop too much.
Brown the one side, turn over and turn the pan to a lower heat (around medium). Let the other side brown a bit.
Now cover the pan with the lid and let it slowly cook through.
When checking the chicken, just be careful, as with the lid on you are creating condensation, so the oil will spatter. So move it off the heat first till the spattering is less and then remove the lid.
Pierce the thickest part of the chicken to see if the juices run clear – then it’s done.
It should take around 20 – 30 minutes, dependent on your heat management.
Yoghurt lemony dipping sauce/dressing
Note: the quantity will depend on the amount of chicken that you’re cooking. So adjust accordingly, remember to use your quality controllers (taste buds).
½ cup natural/plain yoghurt
1 Medium Lemon’s zest
2/3 tsp lemon juice (dependent on how sour you want it)
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Mix together, taste and serve on the side with the salad & wraps