I love to cook. Those who know me would probably say that is even an understatement. I LOVE TO COOK! It is not unknown for me to randomly bring people dinner at the last minute because I made too much food (usually when trying out a new recipe) and delivering it to any warm body that would help eat it. I was the creeper outside my friend’s dorm room at 8pm awkwardly asking if anyone wanted chicken salad because the bowl I made was too big to fit in my mini fridge. It was no different when I was young. As a child I would pretend to be Rachel Ray in the kitchen, driving my less then interested sister mad and jacking up my parents grocery bill. I lived for Food Network, and asked my parents for chef’s knives for Christmas. Which brings me to today’s story (Ya’ll needed background for the crazy I am about to tell you.)
When I was in middle school, I would stay home alone during the summers and watch my younger sister. My dad would come home for lunch and check on us, just to make sure we had not murdered each other or burnt the house down, you know the typical stuff. As I sat in my room one particular morning watching Paula Dean, I watched in awe as she made fried chicken from scratch and talking about how easy it really was to do. The wheels in my young head started turning and I decided at 12, I was going to make fried chicken … from scratch with boiling hot oil… unsupervised. As a grown person this terrifies me, but then I thought Paula Dean was infallible (although since I have definitely learned otherwise.) and really how hard could it be?
This part gets a little hairy for me as I don’t remember much about the actual cooking process, only that I did it and had fried chicken waiting on my dad when he arrived home to the most floured covered kitchen he had ever seen. My only saving grace from getting grounded was that it actually tasted decent, that and neither my sister nor I were a walking grease burn. I was banned from cooking it alone again, but actually encouraged to cook the dish under the watchful eyes of extended family who had been told the story. Over time, I have tweaked and changed ol’ Paula’s recipe to a thing I could call my own, and now want to share with you my fried chicken and the (dangerous) tale of how it came to be. There’s pictures!
“Child Proof” Fried Chicken
1 pk. (8 to 10 pieces) boneless skinless chicken tenders (you can also do this recipe with chicken breasts/dark meat, you would just need to make sure you have allotted for a varied cook time)
2 cups self rising flour
2 tablespoons of each:
garlic powder, pepper, paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup of buttermilk
Vegetable/Peanut Oil (either works fabulously) 1 bottle
1 large deep sided skillet or a dutch oven
Combine salt, paprika, pepper, and garlic powder thoroughly and set aside.
Wash and pat dry chicken tenders, and lay out. Thoroughly coat chicken in seasoning blend, and allow chicken to come to room temp. (Chicken always ALWAYS cooks more thoroughly when at room temp)
Combine egg and milk together in a secondary bowl and beat egg and milk mixture until yolks are thoroughly broken.
Place flour in a separate large open mouthed container, like a cookie sheet or plate. Any left over seasoning blend can be mixed in with the flour.
Fill large skillet about 1/2 inch deep with cooking oil and set to med/high heat. The way to tell it is ready is to drop a teaspoon’s worth of water into the oil. If it hisses, then it is ready.
Dip chicken into egg mixture and then dredge in flour. Coat thoroughly but then gently shake off excess flour. Excess flour will float away from the chicken during frying and burn in the oil (not to mention it is a pain to get out of the hot oil!).
Once oil is ready place prepared chicken into hot oil, DO NOT OVERCROWD THE PAN! I cannot stress that enough, an overcrowded pan equals unhappy fried chicken!
Chicken should cook about 5-7 minutes on each side but it really depends on the thickness of the chicken. The best way to tell is to claim a piece for the “chef” and chop that bad boy in half to make sure he is cooked through. Never leave raw chicken as even a possibility. When in doubt, CHECK IT OUT! I would much rather be served a piece of delicious chicken that was cut in half, then a really pretty full piece of chicken that’s red raw.
Serve with some tasty sides and enjoy!