Domestic Chicken, Amongst Daffodils, USA
Domestic Chicken, Amongst Daffodils, USA
Lynn M. Stone
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La Belle Cuisine - More Poultry Recipes

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Annie Lou's Fried Chicken

 

 

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a sprawling outdoor barbecue, or a fish fry."

~ Lee Bailey


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Grandma's Backyard
Grandma's Backyard
Nenad Mirkovich
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Otis
Otis
Ron Burns
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La Belle Cuisine

 

Annie Lou’s Fried Chicken
(The Best Darned Fried Chicken
in the Whole Darned Universe)

"If six cooks followed the same recipe,
the finished dish would vary six times."
~ Theodora Fitzgibbon

 You know how it is. Somebody cooks up something marvelous. The very thought of it makes your mouth water – not to mention the aroma. To die for. You, of course, want to re-create this masterpiece.  Finally, you ask for the recipe… You know what’s coming, right? Try as you might, you simply cannot do it justice. Why not?  That, dear fellow food aficionado, is among the most difficult questions in the world to answer.
Particularly in this case, as there was no recipe to begin with.  Annie Lou, God rest her weary soul, was a jewel in our household during a time in my life when I needed an angel. My job was extremely demanding, my schedule was hectic and crazy-making, and I had two young sons. My prayer was that I could find someone to be there in the afternoon – primarily for my sons – and incidentally to do some light housework (if time allowed) and laundry (if time allowed).  And there was Annie
Lou. A Godsend. Whose gift (in addition to having been granted the patience of
Job) was the ability to fry chicken like no other mortal before or since. (I know, I know. Except your mama, right?)
”Recipe?!?!?!  Miz Michele, you be pullin’ my po’ ole leg, right? You know Annie
Lou ain’t got no recipe. Been fryin’ up dis heah chicken since I was knee-high to
a grasshopper. Recipe. Harumpf!”
So, like Miss Daisy and Hoke trying to duplicate Idella's  fried chicken, I tried
to conjure up years of watching Annie Lou, did my best to duplicate what she did,
and came pretty darned close.  But no cigar. I’m still working on it………

 Two 2 1/2-3-pound whole chickens,
cut into serving pieces
Approximately 2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons salt
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon seasoned salt (these days
I use Emeril’s Essence or Tony
Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning (to taste),
or ground thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Peanut oil for frying (although Annie Lou
insists lard is best!)

 Rinse the chicken pieces and place them in a large bowl. Mix together the buttermilk and 3 tablespoons salt and pour the mixture over the chicken
to cover. Let the chicken stand at least 1 hour at room temperature (or
overnight, refrigerated).
Stir together the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, garlic powder, seasoned salt or
Creole seasoning, poultry seasoning, paprika and pepper.
This is importantYou must use a well-seasoned deep cast iron skillet to fry chicken the Southern way ( is there really any other way???). It will not be the same if you don’t. You may as well trust me on this. You will need at least enough peanut oil (you can use some other oil, but it won’t be as
good) to come about 1 inch up the side of the skillet. And please do NOT place the chicken pieces in cold oil!  Heat the oil to about 350-375 degrees
F. If you don’t have a thermometer, then at least do a test with a small
piece of bread or something similar.
Drain the chicken well. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess flour. Annie Lou says the ONLY way to do this is
to shake the chicken pieces in the flour in a brown paper bag. Okay? (I use
a plastic bag because paper bags are not that easy to come by these days.) You will need to fry the chicken in batches, you so may as well do your
best to fry the smaller pieces together (legs, thighs, etc.) and the breasts together so that they will be done at approximately the same time. Watch
the heat carefully – hot enough to keep the oil bubbling, but not so hot as
to burn the chicken.
This is where it gets to be controversial. Some folks swear by covering the skillet for part of the cooking time, and some folks would rather be caught
at a dog fight by the preacher. Annie Lou says you must cover the skillet,
at least partially, for part of the cooking time, but that the skillet must be uncovered for at least the last few minutes. What can I tell youHer in-
stinct for this is probably what separates her chicken from mine. That,
plus the fact that in her all-too-short stay on this earth, she fried hundreds more chickens than I did. Or ever will.
Oh yes, how long to fry the chicken? About 9-10 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. That’s about it. You’ll want
to drain the chicken on paper towels on a big tray. And be sure to place
the tray far enough back on the kitchen counter so your 6-month-old
Beagle-Bassett puppy won’t come prancing into the living room, proud
as a peacock, with a chicken leg in his mouth.
Lord have mercy, I almost forgot the gravy! Blasphemy! Well, I always
make a BIG batch of gravy, because I like it even better than the chicken.  So. Save about 1/2 cup of oil from frying the chicken. Make a roux using
1/2 cup flour, stirring, stirring, stirring, for about 3 minutes. If you don’t
cook the roux long enough, the gravy will taste pasty. Yuck. Instead of
using a combination of chicken broth and milk like some folks prefer, I
like to put chicken bouillon cubes in milk. You’ll need enough bouillon
cubes for 1 quart of milk. (I told you this makes a lot of gravy. If you
don’t want this much, just halve the amounts. No problem. But then
you might not have any leftover chicken gravy. Your choice.) It’s best
to heat the milk and dissolve the bouillon cubes in it, but you can get
away without heating it if you must. Just be sure not to neglect the
gravy, as it needs your attention. Pour the milk in slowly, whisking,
whisking, whisking.
Eventually the mixture will start to bubble and thicken up. Be sure to
add lots of black pepper. Lots. And if you aren’t going to have mashed
potatoes
or biscuits with this meal, (preferably both, and some good
cole slaw
), I just don’t know what to tell you...
And maybe some green beans, too. Squash casserole, butter beans or
black-eyed peas... and greens! You might as well whip up a batch of cornbread while you're at it, right? And pecan pie for dessert! Or how
about some chess pie, for a change? Mercy, mercy, mercy, somebody
SAVE me!


Featured Archive Recipes:
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Jean Anderson's Oven-Fried Chicken
Unfried "Fried" Chicken


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