Mom’s Fried Chicken

For me, there is nothing more sacred than cooking a recipe that was passed down from someone you love. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I never got to cook with my grandma. I was twelve when she died and now when I cook one of her recipes I trust that she is in heaven guiding me around the kitchen. Spend time with the talented cooks in your life, cherish the memories and soak up all of their knowledge.

Tonight, I spent time with my favorite family chef, my mom. I love cooking with my mom. It is our time to catch up and do something that we both enjoy, together. She learned to cook from her mom and someday I will teach my daughter. Through my blog I hope to chronicle some of her recipes- warning, none are healthy. She learned from my grandma who would fry bacon and then use all the grease for the hash browns. They are delicious though, and we start this series off with deliciously unhealthy fried chicken.

Have you ever looked up how to make fried chicken? I have, you will find a million different ways, different breading, oil, seasoning, etc. This recipe adds one more to the mix.

To begin, set your oven to 350 degrees

The oil:

Equal parts butter and Crisco… oh yeah forgot to mention, if you are looking for specific measurements this might be the wrong fried chicken recipe for you. As I was saying, equal parts butter and Crisco (eyeball it).

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Do you remember this scene from the help? Crisco really is magical.

Get the oil going over medium-high heat. While it is warming up, dredge your chicken in flour that has been lightly peppered. Start with you chicken breasts first then your other chicken pieces.

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You will know oil is hot by putting a little flour in first and if it fries up the oil is ready. Put your chicken breasts meat side down and let the brown up for 5-10 minutes until they are the color of these bad boys:

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Then flip them; the other side will take less time but aim for a similar color.  You may need to add more butter and Crisco for the second batch. While they are finishing up frying quarter an onion and put it at the bottom of a flat bottom metal pan with sides.

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Place the browned chicken breasts in the pan, cover with tin foil and put them in the oven. Since the breasts are meatier, this will give them more time to cook. While they are in the oven, follow the same steps with the wings, legs, etc. Add the rest of the chicken to the breasts, recover, and bake for an additional 30-45 minutes. During this time peel, chop, and begin to boil potatoes for mashing.

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Don’t throw away the grease that you used to fry your chicken! My mom said this is where she gets all the good flavor for her gravy… while raising her eyebrows. When you pull the pan of chicken out, it should be at least 165 degrees and the pan will be filled with happy chicken juice. Place your chicken in a different pan and cover with foil and bring the happy chicken juice metal plan to stove top to begin the gravy making experience.

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Gravy Tangent

Making gravy… it is a skill. And like fried chicken, there are millions of ways (well maybe not millions) but a lot of ways to go about making gravy. My mom uses flour for poultry and cornstarch for beef and admittedly does not know why. This tradition is not based on science people and Alton Brown would most likely pull his hair out if he saw this (I have seen his gravy episode).

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Anyways, to the happy chicken juice with floating onions my mom adds some of the browned bits of chicken and flour from the bottom of the fry pan (not the grease the little scraps). How much of the scraps? Maybe four little spoonfuls? She lights the burner to medium under the metal pan, adds three chicken bouillon cubes, and a half a cup of water. After it heats up in looks like a fun hot tub.

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On the side, she has a cup with a half-cup of water and a half-cup of milk mixed and then a cup with a few tablespoons of flour and water that make a runny paste. The goal is to thicken the hot tub with a little paste, add a little milk mixture, little paste… on and on until it gets the right consistency.  Remember, that gravy will thicken more as it cools. If you are new to gravy… it wouldn’t hurt to have a spare gravy packet in the cupboard in case the whole thing goes to hell.

Mash your potatoes with milk, butter, salt, and pepper and serve!

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Ingredients:

Fried Chicken-

  • Whole fryer chicken cut up (if your family really loves the breasts or the legs consider buying extra… or another chicken)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Crisco
  • Flour
  • Pepper
  • 1 Yellow onion quartered

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In a large frying pan, heat half the stick of butter and a large scoop of Crisco on medium-high heat. Dredge the chicken breasts in a shallow pan with flour that has been dusted with pepper until the breast is covered. Place the chicken breasts meat side down in the oil and fry for 5-10 minutes until brown then flip and fry the other side.

In a metal pan with tall sides, add the onion quarters to the bottom. Break them up so they cover more of the bottom. Add the chicken breasts to the top of the onions; cover the pan with tinfoil and place in the oven.

While the breasts are in the oven, follow the same process with the rest of the chicken. You may need to add the rest of the stick of butter and more Crisco to the frying pan. When both sides are brown, add them to the metal pan in the oven with the chicken breasts and recover. Bake for 30-45 minutes. DO NOT THROW OUT THE GREASE FROM THE PAN.

When the chicken has reached 165 degrees (it will not hurt anyone if it cooks a little longer) take the chicken out of the metal pan, which will now be filled with juice. Place the chicken in a different pan and cover while you make the gravy.

Gravy-

  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup water and ½ cup milk mixture
  • 2 tablespoons flour with another water mixed in to create a runny paste
  • Scraplings from the bottom of the frying pan

Put the metal pan on the stove and begin heating the juice on medium. Add some of the scraps (pieces of chicken or flour) from the bottom of the fry pan (just a few teaspoons worth).

Add the chicken bouillon cubes and the half-cup of water. Slowly begin to add a little of the flour paste then a little of the milk mixture until you have reached the perfect gravy texture. The gravy will continue to thicken as it cools.

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