You’ve heard me say it before: I love fried chicken (in moderation, of course). But the chicken recipe’s got to be worth it. To me, the perfect fried chicken is nice and batter-y, is organic, has its skin on, and is good and crispy. If I have to eat fried chicken out, KFC original recipe is just the thing. So it makes sense that in the search for perfect homemade fried chicken, I started with that recipe—which I found in the cookbook that my husband brought into our marriage (and is the item of most value, also): Top Secret Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones of America’s Favorite Brand-Name Foods, by Todd Wilbur.
The secret to KFC’s mystery spices? MSG (monosodium glutamate). Sorry, you won’t find that here. Buttermilk? Forget about it. I’ve tried cooking chicken with and without, and I don’t think buttermilk makes enough of a difference to be worth searching it out. And it’s hard to find organic buttermilk anyway. Brining? No way. Who’s got the time and patience for that? So not only is this recipe delicious, but it’s easy and quick, too.
Maria’s Fried Country Chicken
2 cups milk
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 cups olive oil
1 whole organic chicken, with skin, cut into pieces (you can cut the breasts in half, too, if you want)
1: Put the egg into a bowl and whisk it. Add the milk and whisk until smooth.
2: Put the flour, salt, and pepper into another bowl and stir them together.
3: Put the olive oil into a giant cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, and turn the heat on high.
4: Dip each chicken piece in the milk-and-egg mixture, then roll gently in the flour mixture—trying to get as much batter on it as possible.
5: Gently put the pieces in the hot oil and cook for about 10 minutes; turn them over and cook the other side for 10 minutes. You can cover the skillet or leave it uncovered. Part of the KFC secret is deep frying in a pressure cooker to retain moisture. That’s too much work for me.
6: Use tongs to gently remove the chicken pieces from the skillet and let them rest on a paper towel–coated platter (to absorb the excess oil).
You can make this recipe without the skin, but you lose some of that chicken-y good flavor. I have yet to be brave enough to fry it up using lard, but you can bet it’s on the list!
Also, if you want extra crispy batter-y coating, you can double-dip (that’s the good kind of double-dip, not the economic depression kind). Instead of just one round of milk, egg, and flour, do it twice. But make sure to use less salt if that’s the case; otherwise it gets too salty. It’s always better to have less salt than too much, because you can always add it at the end.