Southern Fried Chicken

Almost every country has a fried chicken dish. But, in America, it's southern fried chicken that takes the crown. First of all, why does it have to be southern and why is it called so? For this you have to go to the Scots. They liked frying their chicken rather than boiling and baking the bird like their English counterparts. When the Scots settled in the American south they brought this style of cooking with them. African-American slaves quickly adapted the method to plantation life since they were often allowed to raise their own chickens. This contributed to the dish becoming a traditional southern favorite. Let us note that it did not become popular in the North until well into the 19th century. Today it is ubiquitous all over the U.S. My mother would make her own version of it in our Spanish Harlem neighborhood. And  that is the recipe given below. With an ice cold beer or a bottle of pinot noir, nothing could be better.

1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds), cut into pieces
4 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 eggs
3 cups light cream or half-and-half
2 cups vegetable oil

1. Wash chicken pieces; then soak chicken in water and salt for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
2. In a large shallow dish, mix together the flour, salt, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix eggs and cream.
3. Dredge chicken pieces in cream mixture, then in the seasoned flour until well coated.
4. Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan or skillet (I prefer cast iron) until it’s at least 360 degrees F.
Place the chicken in the pan, trying not to crowd the pieces. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Check the chicken. When it’s golden brown, turn pieces, cover and cook for the next 5 minutes.
5. Remove cover and cook uncovered, turning occasionally, until cooked through (about another 20 minutes). Watch carefully to make sure the pieces don’t get too dark. If it’s frying too fast, reduce heat slightly. The key to this is to cover the pieces at the beginning to start the cooking process inside the chicken. Then uncover during the last part of the cooking time to get a nice and crispy golden brown finish.
     Yield: 4 servings.
NOTE:  These days, some prefer to place the seasoned flour inside a gallon ziplock bag, then coat the chicken in the bag a few pieces at a time. Use whatever method suits best or is more convenient.