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Southern Fried Chicken

| January 27, 2014 | 10 Comments

Southern Fried Chicken, as seen on Taste of Southern.
Follow step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions for making our Southern Fried Chicken in a cast iron skillet, just like mama used to do it.  I’ll even share our families secret recipe of “herbs and spices,” so you can make this delicious old southern classic at home for you and your family to enjoy.  Printable recipe included.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, slider.
Southern Fried Chicken Recipe:

 

I’ve been asked numerous times over the past years, for a recipe on Southern Fried Chicken.  I think I’ve just been putting it off, because I must be honest, I can’t fry chicken the way my mother did.  Yes, I’ve tried, but it just never seems to be what I remember eating sitting at her table.

As I’ve mentioned before, we always had 11-15 people at our house for Sunday Dinner, each and every Sunday.  My older brother and sister had married and had children of their own, years before I ever did. Mama always expected ALL of us to be at her house on Sunday.  And, if that wasn’t enough, 9 times out of 10, she invited the pastor and his family.  But, all was well and good.  She always had plenty of food.

Mama would get up early on Sunday and start cooking, before she got ready for church.  What she didn’t finish by church time, she finished just as soon as she got home, and could get more comfortable shoes and her apron on.  She always had the apron.

Sometimes chicken would be frying away and she’d just cut the burner off, cover the pan, and go to church.  When she got back, she’d turn the burner back on and continue right where she left off.

Of course, back then, once everyone ate, Mama would just throw a big white cloth over the table after all the dirty dishes were removed.  The remaining food would sit right on the table, chicken and all, until supper time when we’d dig into it again.  Ahhh, those were the days.

I totally LOVED Mama’s fried chicken.  Always a drumstick or thigh, seldom the breast part.  Or, maybe I’d get lucky and find the wishbone. You know, I still can’t cut up a chicken to where it has a wishbone.  I’m not very adept at carving up a whole chicken anyway.  I get by, but that’s about it.

Mama fried chicken in her cast iron skillet during the week, but Sundays required the bigger, Electric Frying Pan that she acquired later on. Just so you’ll know, the skillet you’ll see pictured below IS the exact same skillet.  It’s my most treasured piece of cooking equipment.

I’ve often wondered why I can’t seem to fry chicken up the same way she did.  She always used Lard.  I use Lard.  As for that family secret of “herbs and spices,” Mama only used TWO… Salt and Black Pepper.  Tell that to the Colonel.  Still, her chicken came out fabulously.  And, it wasn’t just me, most everyone else raved about how good it was.

I’ve read that the reason chicken doesn’t taste like it use to, is because of the way chickens are raised these days.  It appears the best way to even get close to the chicken of days gone by, is to buy organic and farm raised chickens.  I’m going to do that one day just to see if it makes a difference.  I’m just too quick to grab one at the big mart when I’m ready to fry up my own.

I will however, do my best to show you the process.  It’s the way Mama cooked hers, and the way I cook it myself, minus her special touch of course.  I hope you’ll try it in a big old cast iron skillet of your own, and come back and let me know how you like it.

Ready to give it a try?  Alright then, heat up some Lard and Let’s Get Cooking!

 

Southern Fried Chicken, you'll need these ingredients.
Skillet Fried Chicken:  You’ll need these ingredients.

I realized after I placed the pictures from the camera onto my computer, that the bucket of Lard wasn’t saying LARD but Manteca.  But, that was a good thing, because if you can’t find Lard in your grocery store, check one of the Hispanic stores.  Chances are they will have it under the name of Manteca. One side of this bucket says Lard, the other says Manteca… same thing.

I realize we could get into lots of discussion over using Lard, but let’s just enjoy the memories… OK?

 

Southern Fried Chicken, remove the packet of giblets.
Most whole chickens come packed with a packet of giblets inside the chicken cavity.  The neck bone will either be still attached, or also inside the bird.  You’ll want to be sure to remove the packet of giblets and save them for later.  You can use them to make gravy for your fried chicken, or freeze them for later, maybe to make your own chicken stock.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, rinse the bird.
Give the bird a good bath, inside and out.  Rinse it under cold running water inside the sink.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, cut up the chicken.
Cut up the chicken.  Now, that’s a whole step-by-step story within itself that we’ll save for another day. Maybe after I get a bit better at it myself.  Just saying.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, save the back and giblets.
Be sure to save the back, neck and giblet pieces.  We can use those in another recipe later.  It will make great stock or soup, so freeze it all together if you don’t have plans to use it within a day or so.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, add salt.
Lay the chicken out on a sheet pan and add just a little bit of salt to taste.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, add black pepper.
Give it some Black Pepper, also to taste.  Basically whatever you think you can get away with for your family.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, season both sides.
Turn all the pieces over, right there in the pan, and season the other side with Salt and Black Pepper.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, flour in a bowl.
Place about 2 cups of flour in a medium size bowl.  Use a fork to break up any large lumps that might be in it.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, dredge the chicken.
One piece at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour.  Just drop a piece in, turn it over a time or two, and coat all the sides and edges.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, shake off any excess.
Gently shake off any excess flour.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, no flour under skin.
If you have a piece of chicken where the skin has pulled loose from the meat, just fold it back down on the meat.  Don’t try to flour underneath the skin.  The flour will not brown once it’s in the hot oil, and you aren’t really going to like the outcome.  You can thank me later.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, add flour on top.
Just spread the loose skin back out on the chicken piece and coat the top with flour.  Continue this with each piece, placing it back on the sheet pan after shaking off any excess flour.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, discard any leftover flour.
Discard any leftover flour.  I know it seems wasteful, but it’s better to toss it than cross contaminate some other food later.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, let the chicken rest and dry a bit.
Once you’ve coated all the chicken pieces, just let it set on the sheet pan and rest a bit.  This will allow the coating to dry and hold to the chicken better.  We’ll just let it sit out for the length of time it takes to heat up the cooking oil.  You could also place it, uncovered, in the refrigerator for an hour or two, until you’re ready to fry it up.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, lard in the skillet.
Place some lard in your cast iron skillet.  You’ll need enough lard, once it’s melted, to measure about 3/4 of an inch deep inside the skillet.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, add some butter.
Once the lard has melted and started to warm up, CAREFULLY add the Butter.  A Tablespoon full of Bacon Grease would also be really good, if you have that.  The butter will of course brown in the Lard but that’s the point.  It helps give the first pieces of chicken cooked in the Lard a nice brown color.  It also helps to add some flavor.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, it bubbles.
I say carefully, because the cold Butter going into the hot Lard, will start to bubble and splatter.  Just be sure you don’t let it splatter out on yourself.  A splatter screen comes in pretty handy for frying chicken. One day, I think I’ll actually buy myself one.  Sadly, I just look at it as another item that has to be washed after the meal is over.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, testing the lard.
If you take just a pinch of flour, and drop it in the hot Lard, it will start to dance and sizzle if the Lard is hot enough to start frying the chicken in.  As you can see here, it just wasn’t quite hot enough at this point.  A thermometer would be even better if you have that.  The Lard needs to get up to 350º to properly fry the chicken.  I’ve learned that placing my largest burner on just a little below Medium heat, works perfect for frying.  With a little practice, you’ll learn what works best for you.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, add the chicken.
Place the chicken, skin side down, in the skillet. That grease is hot, be careful lowering the chicken so it doesn’t splatter back on you.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, don't crowd the pan.
Don’t overcrowd the pan when adding the other pieces.  I’m cooking wings, thigh and legs in the first batch.  The breasts will cook a little quicker, so I’ll add them in the second batch.

I like to call the next steps, the 8-8-8-8 Method.  I’ve just found it to be an easy way to remember the steps involved.  We’re going to fry the chicken 8 minutes with the lid ON, then 8 minutes with the lid OFF.  From now on, you’ll always remember the 8-8-8-8′s. Take a look.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, cover the chicken.
Cover the chicken.  I’m using a lid from one of my canning pots.  It fits almost perfect on my cast iron skillet.  We’ll start timing the process once the lid is on.  We want to cook the chicken for 8 minutes with the lid on the frying pan.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, uncover and cook.
After 8 minutes with the pan covered, you’ll need to carefully remove the lid.  It’s going to be hot and have steam escaping when you lift it, so be careful. I use my tongs to remove the lid and sit it aside until needed again.  Uncover the chicken and let it cook for 8 more minutes.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, turn the chicken.
Use some tongs and turn each piece.  Tongs are better, so you don’t pierce the chicken like you would if you flipped it with a fork.  You could also re-position the pieces in the pan if you see one area is cooking a bit hotter than the other.  You’d know this by seeing burned spots.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, cover again.
Place the lid back on the chicken once again.  We’ll let it cook for 8 more minutes on the second side with the lid on the pan.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, uncover again.
Carefully remove the lid once again.  The chicken has cooked pretty well on both sides by now.  It will need to cook for about another 8 minutes with the lid off again.  At this point, you could use a meat thermometer to see what the internal temperature of the chicken is.  It needs to cook until that temperature reaches 160ºF to be best, so it might not actually take a full 8 minutes during the last stage.  It just depends on how hot your pan is at this point.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, don't overcook it.
I let the chicken fry for another 8 minutes and tested the temperature.  It had reached just above 180º in one of the thigh pieces.  The internal temperature was a bit higher than is needed to be considered fully cooked and safe.  If you cook the breast pieces to this temperature, they’re apt to be dry and tough.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, drain on paperbag.
In order to keep the fried chicken good and crispy, remove it from the pan and let it drain on a piece of brown paper bag, or on a wire rack.  It’s best to not place it on paper towels unless you like a softer touch to the skin.  Experiment with it and find which you like best.  Placing the fried chicken in a bowl and covering with a towel will soften up the exterior, but still give a tender and moist fried chicken experience.

 

Southern Fried Chicken, enjoy.
Go ahead and cook the second batch.  Since we saved the breast pieces until last, they will cook a bit faster.  I still used the 8 minutes with the lid on, 8 minutes with the lid off – then turn, and cover and cook about 8 more minutes.  When you remove the lid, check the internal temperature of the breast pieces.  It will probably be done and should be removed.  Thicker pieces of course will take longer to cook than the thinner sections.  You’ll just have to monitor it during the final minutes of cooking so as to not over cook it.  It takes a little practice, but you can do it.

Pan fried chicken is best if allowed to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.  You don’t want anyone biting into super hot pieces of chicken.

Enjoy!

 

Southern Fried Chicken

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 8 pieces

Southern Fried Chicken

Follow step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions for making our Southern Fried Chicken in a cast iron skillet, just like mama used to do it. I'll even share our families secret recipe of "herbs and spices," so you can make this delicious old southern classic at home for you and your family to enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 – Whole Fryer, cut up
  • 2 cups Flour
  • Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
  • Lard or shortening, for frying.

Instructions

  1. Remove neck and giblet pieces from inside chicken cavity. Set aside.
  2. Rinse chicken, inside and out, under cold running water.
  3. Carefully cut up the chicken into 8 pieces, reserving backbone for stock.
  4. Spread chicken pieces out on a sheet pan.
  5. Sprinkle both sides with Salt and Pepper to taste.
  6. Place about 2 cups of flour in a mixing bowl.
  7. One at a time, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, coating both sides and ends.
  8. Remove chicken, shaking off any excess flour.
  9. Set the coated chicken back on the sheet pan. Let it rest while you heat up the Lard.
  10. Heat the lard in a cast iron skillet to 350º for frying.
  11. Melted lard should be about ¾ of an inch deep inside the skillet.
  12. Carefully place pieces of floured chicken in the hot oil, skin side down.
  13. Do not overcrowd the skillet.
  14. Cover and let the chicken cook for 8 minutes.
  15. Remove cover and let chicken cook for 8 minutes.
  16. Carefully turn chicken over, cover the pan and let the chicken cook 8 minutes.
  17. Remove cover and let chicken cook 8 minutes longer, turning as needed to cook edges.
  18. Remove chicken from skillet and place on wire rack or brown paper bag to cool.
  19. Let the chicken cool for 15 minutes before serving.
  20. Serve warm and Enjoy!
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Your Comments:  Do you fry chicken at home?  Think its just easier to buy it already fried?  I’d love to hear your comments on our recipe if you decide to give it a try.  Maybe you have fond memories of a parent or grandparent frying up some delicious chicken at your home.  Feel free to share your story in the Comments Section below.  It will only take a minute or two and I’d love to hear from you.  Just know that all of our comments are moderated.  Basically, that just means that I read each and every one of them before they are approved for our family friendly home here on the Internet.  I also try to reply to as many comments as possible.  It may take me a day or two, but be sure to check back for a reply. Thank you in advance.

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Be Blessed!!!
Steve

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Category: Chicken, Main Dishes

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (10)

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  1. Joe says:

    Hi Steve
    Im 50 now.. Your mom was about the same age as my mom.. I grew up on a farm.. Old school.. 7 kids 2 parents.. I LOVE your old recipes of cathead buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken,pork chops etc.. Mashed taters and gravy went with any iron skllet fried meats.. And any kind of beans.. I use your Taste of Southern site alot to teach my kids primetive farm living and simple cooked meals for large families back in the day/. Seamed like Mom could cook a full course fried up meal in minutes..
    Thanks for sharing.. Brings back good ole memories and tasted buds some people never get to discover if it wasnt for you great site
    Thanks
    Joe ,
    in good ole south Ga

  2. Veronica says:

    Hello,

    As I’m reading this recipe, I’m thinking what about the second coating of flour, and where’s the egg? My mom made the Best Fried Chicken, and we even used a deep fryer at my house. The result was Wonderful.

    It was like your chicken fried steak recipe.
    I was just looking at your “Chicken Fried Steak” recipe. Just a thought. I have to say, using a deep fryer is a great way to fry as you will not have so much oil in your food. Always place on the paper towels to drain after frying.

    I hope this helps.

    Good Luck!

  3. Rebekah says:

    Greetings, Steve! I have been exploring your website and I decided to try this recipe last night. Overall, I enjoyed the results and it was the best effort I’ve made with fried chicken in quite a while. I didn’t have any lard, so I used peanut oil, which didn’t give me quite the richness I was looking for, but turned out pretty tasty nonetheless. Crispy and fairly light on the grease. I like to render my own lard, and I should have some fat coming my way soon. Once that’s in place, I will surely make this again and continue to use your 8′s technique, which I think was the greatest factor in my success. The one modification I’ll make to it is to turn my chicken a bit more frequently, as I got a burned spot where one of the pieces rested for too long. Like you spoke of, it can take a little adjustment depending on many factors. I’m really getting a kick out of all your recipes and lovely stories, so please feel encouraged to keep up the good work. As for me, your biscuits are next! My best to you.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Rebekah, I’m thankful you’ve found Taste of Southern, and very happy to know that you were willing to give our Southern Fried Chicken recipe a try. Lard really makes a difference in my opinion. It’s difficult to find the good stuff in stores these days as it’s all pasteurized etc. Rendering takes a little time, but well worth the effort. I commend you for doing the extra work.

      Instead of turning the chicken more often, might I suggest that you either rotate it around in the pan, or just turn the whole skillet around if possible. That helps prevent some of the hotter spots from burning the chicken. Just a suggestion of course.

      Thank You for your comments, and for your compliments, it’s greatly appreciated. I do hope you’ll try some of our other recipes, and I’ll look for you to stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  4. Hans says:

    Excellent recipe Steve! Thanks for sharing! One quick question: what’s your assessment with substituting lard with something else, like canola or peanut oil? Just wanted your opinion. Thanks!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Hans, Thank you for your question. You could easily substitute the Lard by using either Peanut Oil or the Canola Oil. You should still get good results as both have a higher smoke point than Lard and can handle the heat. I’d probably go with the Peanut Oil, but that’s just my opinion. I do hope you’ll try the recipe and that you’ll let me know how it turns out for you. Thank you for your visit and your question, and do visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  5. Rose says:

    This is the same recipe that has been handed down in my family for generations. My paternal Grandmother was a hard working Iowa farm woman..before all of the modern conveniences of modern farms. She raised 100′s of chickens while my Dad & Grandfather tended the hundreds of acres of corn.

    Store bought chickens today do not taste the same as those farm raised chickens, makes a huge difference. I don’t buy store chickens.

    You just made me hungry for fried chicken tonight..:-)

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Rose, Thank you for sharing your story and memories. I appreciate your visit and hope you get the chance to fry up some chicken of your own real soon. I’m thankful you’ve found Taste of Southern and hope you’ll visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  6. Connie says:

    Thank you for this post. I have always wanted to try cooking with lard and after seeing this recipe I am definitly going to try it. I liked that your recipe does’nt have to many ingredients and that you gave the amount of time it should take to fry it. Thank you again.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Connie, Thank you for your comments on our Southern Fried Chicken Recipe. I do hope you get to try it soon, and that you will come back and let me know how it turns out for you. It’s my pleasure to share the recipe and the pictures, I really hope you’ll like it. Thank you for your visit and do stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

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