Recently I read about a food critic who died and his friends printed his favorite recipes on his memorial program which I thought was a fabulous idea. So since my mother taught me a few of her "heirloom" recipes I thought I would share the most CW relevant one here in case I get hit by a truck without ever having passed it on to anyone.
The subject is the best fried chicken you'll ever taste. First item of business: forget fancy batters; most taste terrible. One cook book also said the true test of fried chicken is that it has to be crisp on the outside and falling off the bone on the inside. Now I might agree with that, but again, if the crust tastes terrible it kind of negates the whole other idea.
So here are my credentials: my gggmother was from an old KY line. I've consulted another KYian and his mother only added pepper which mine did not. Otherwise his recipe was the same as mine. So here it goes:
#1 cooking principle: steaming brings out flavor that nothing else does similarly; through steaming you get the "falling off the bone" effect.
Kay's Kentucky Fried Chicken:
1. Use a cast iron deep fryer and Crisco. Also unsifted flour if you can find it and then sift by hand.
2. Decide for yourself whether you want to cut up a whole fryer or use precut pieces. In either case, put a fair amount of sifted dredging flour (white unbleached) in a pie plate. Wash the chicken pieces in warm water and pour boiling water over them (kills bacteria). Lightly salt each piece and dredge in the flour.
3. Put a signifcant amount of Crisco in the cast iron fryer (but not deep) and heat up--on medium flame to begin with. Place floured chicken pieces.
4. While on medium heat, turn the pieces until each one is browned on the outside on both sides. As more get done they can be stacked on top of each other.
5. This browning should take about 10 to 15 minutes depending upon how many pieces you have. Once all are browned, lower the heat to low and cover. Keep turining and rotating pieces top and bottom so the bottom ones don't burn.
6. One whole chicken should take about 1 hour to cook: 15 minutes to brown and another 45 to get it "falling off the bone." Keep that cover on.
7. When done (test with a fork) turn off heat and put pieces on a paper towel to soak up extra oil.
8. Serve hot* and cold for lunch the next day.
* A superb summer meal although not without cholesterol: fried chicken, sliced home grown tomatoes, 3-bean salad (green, kidney, chick peas, onions, dressing), corn on the cob, potato salad (potatoes, hard boiled eggs, onions, vinegar, Miracle Whip, salt to taste). In the winter change to: fried chicken; mashed potatoes and gravy; green beans and bacon; and sauteed tomatoes with basil; and a green salad.
One food note of caution that I hope everyone knows regardless:
I have always cooked on a gas stove and have never used a meat thermometer, having gone by time and weight.
I stated here that chicken should be browned on medium heat--that means medium to high. In other words, you have to cook chicken over 165 degrees I think (check via the internet; beef is about 180?) to kill salmonella. So you have to cook it at a high enough temperature to heat the whole piece that high. In other words, cooking it on low heat for a long time is not good enough--the temperature of the piece must reach about 170 for a period of time to be safe. As I said, after you've cooked on high for a period, then you can change to low to soften the meat and release the juices.
So use what measures you have found to be safe. Me, I've never gotten ill on my own food.