REV, DAISY’S SOUTHERN-FRIED CHICKEN
Fried chicken can be found on almost every soul food table. There is no mystery to its preparation or cooking at all. Because I was the oldest child and my mother always worked, I had to learn to cook from an early age. There were no cookbooks, I just stood and watched, and was often left to finish off a dish. Fried chicken was one of the first things I learned to cook. We never went to the commercial takeaway places. Why would we, when we knew there was always a skillet of fresh chicken frying at home?
10 chicken pieces (I prefer legs, thighs and wings, as they tend to be the juiciest) 1 teaspoon salt 1 lemon 2 tablespoons Momma’s Cajun Seasoning (page 50) 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder 200g plain flour 500ml vegetable oil, for frying 1 tablespoon butter
For the chicken gravy
3 tablespoons seasoned flour (from the bag you use to season the chicken pieces) 1 tablespoon light soy sauce or 1 teaspooon gravy granules (optional, but it does help) 1 litre of water, chicken stock or vegetable stock whisky, rum or tequila (optional)
Wash the chicken pieces and gently pat them dry. Sprinkle with the salt, then squeeze over the juice from the lemon and sprinkle with half the Cajun seasoning, black pepper and garlic powder. Leave to rest for at least 10 minutes. If you are planning a large meal, you can cover the chicken and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.
When you are ready to cook, place the flour in a large plastic bag for shaking, or in a bowl, and mix in the remaining seasonings. Add the seasoned chicken pieces to the flour mixture and toss until fully coated. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan, preferably cast iron, and add the butter (I always include a touch of butter if my oil is fresh and it’s the first time frying, it helps to brown the chicken and adds extra flavour). To test the temperature of the oil, drop a pinch of flour in it; if it begins to sizzle immediately, you can begin frying. Place the coated chicken pieces skin-side down in the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes over a medium heat, until golden brown. Turn the pieces, cover the pan and cook for 6-10 minutes, then uncover the pan and turn the chicken again. Continue to fry until the chicken is cooked right through to the bone; the juices should run clear if you insert a knife. Remove the chicken from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm while you make the gravy.
To make the gravy: Pour the oil from the pan into an empty tin or jar, leaving the meat drippings behind for the gravy. (Save the oil for the next time you fry chicken. I find a mixture of half pre-used and half fresh oil fries the best – this way you don’t need to add the butter to the oil for flavour and colour). Place the frying pan over a moderate heat and stir in the 3 tablespoons of seasoned flour. After about a minute, when it begins to brown, add the soy sauce or gravy granules, if using, followed by the water or stock (if you are boiling potatoes, their cooking water makes the best gravy). Bring to the boil, then reduce he heat and simmer until reduced to the consistency you like. To jazz up the gravy, you can add a little of your favourite alcoholic drink with the water or stock – I’ve tried whisky, rum and tequila.
Serve the fried chicken with the gravy. Mashed potatoes make the best accompaniment.