Monday, July 2, 2012


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I had spent the weekend cleaning and organizing dozens of boxes stacked in the closets and guestrooms of our newly acquired, old Victorian, culling through endless papers and receipts (Paul does not believe in throwing away ANY receipts or notepads, or scraps of paper with notes on them, or old lottery tickets - you get the picture) when lo and behold I uncovered a scrap of paper that had a Fried Chicken Recipe on it. This was not just any fried chicken recipe, this was the recipe scribbled quickly on one of Paul's sundry pieces of scrap paper by Brian, a previous line chef for the now closed Mabbettsville Market in Millbrook, New York. I scooped it up, set it aside to go in my recipe file. 

For me, meatloaf and mashed potatoes with gravy, a spicy chili and side of corn bread, or a hearty beef stew all constitute delicious, soothing comfort food, but discovering that little scrap of a recipe gave me a mighty hankering for fried chicken. Our freezer was full of chicken legs  and I had a half a head of cabbage in the crisper that I did not want to go to waste so I hummed hallelujahs and made plans to cook what I had just rememberes was another one of my favorite comfort foods, Fried Chicken with Creamy Coleslaw on the side.

Michel Nischan, sustainable food pioneer, chef, author and owner of Dressing Room Restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, helps remove the guilt factor that comes with eating fried foods by counseling,  "Like most fried foods, when done correctly, fried chicken is not bad for you. It should be enjoyed in moderation, but when you feel the urge to fry up some chicken, do it right."

Like barbeque, simply everyone has their own special trick for frying up the tastiest chicken, but I totally agree with Bon Appetit magazine, for a good fried chicken the skillet makes all the difference: "A cast-iron skillet--inexpensive and indestructible--is the prized frying vessel for a reason. It retains heat better than most pans, which helps regulate the oil temperature and ensures even frying. If you don't own one already, this recipe should provide ample motivation."

Since lard is not bad for you either, as long as it too is used in moderation, I use it (in my old Griswold cast iron pan) for frying the chicken. It imparts a wonderfully distinctive flavor and actually leaves the chicken less greasy. Learn how to render your own lard here.

Never fear, if you don't own a cast iron pan you can still make perfectly acceptable fried chicken in another heavy bottomed pan. I myself, momentarily lost my sanity and spent several years immersing chicken in canola oil using one of those made-for-the-home deep fryers: never again. 

This fried chicken, though, I will be having over and over.  Served up with a healthy side dish of a traditional creamy coleslaw or some potato or tossed green salad, it certainly makes for a comforting meal, no matter what time of year it is.



2 quarts Buttermilk or Whole Milk

1 Onion, minced

3 to 4 Garlic heads, sliced thinly

3 tablespoons fresh Thyme (1 Tablespoon dried thyme)

1/4 cup Kosher salt

Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper

One (2 to 3 pound) free range Chicken, cut into 8 pieces

OR all Chicken legs, backs, breasts - whatever your preference.


2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 Tablespoon Onion powder

1 Tablespoon Garlic powder

1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)

1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon dried Coleman's Mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground Black Pepper


3/4 to 1 Cup Lard (or Canola Oil)

Cast Iron Skillet or heavy bottomed pan with Cover


Warm 1 quart of (butter) milk  in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme. Set aside to come to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper, using enough salt so that the you can taste it.

When the (butter) milk is nearly cool, pour in a dish large enough to hold the chicken pieces. stir in the remaining 1 quart cold (butter) milk. Add your chicken, cover, and refrigerate for a minimum of  2 hours and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally. Drain the chicken, pat dry. Throw away the milk marinade.

To make the flour mix, mix together the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, and mustard in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper. Put the chicken pieces in the flour. Turn to coat. Let the coated chicken pieces sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat your skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, heat the lard until liquified and so hot it is nearly smoking. Using tongs, lay the chicken pieces in the hot fat, which should come about halfway up the sides of the chicken.

Cover and let fry for 3 to 4 minutes, then turn the pieces over. Watch the chicken carefully, turning as needed to brown evenly on both sides and cook through, about 25 to 30 minutes total. (The smaller pieces might be cooked through in 20 minutes.) Adjust the heat if necessary to prevent scorching, but try to keep it as high as you can. Watch out for splatter, you don't want to get burned.

Lift the chicken pieces from the hot fat as they are cooked. Drain on paper towels, set in baking dish in a warm oven until all your pieces are cooked. Serve hot with your prepared side dishes..

Tossing together the Creamy Coleslaw




1 head Cabbage, shredded

1 Yellow Onion, shredded

1 large Carrot, shredded

2 Tablespoons Honey

1 Tablespoon Celery Seed

5 Tablespoons White Vinegar

dash Cayenne Pepper

dash Garlic Salt

Mayonnaise, Salt and Pepper to taste



Mix Honey, Vinegar, Cayenne Pepper,and Garlic Salt over low heat until honey is incorporated. Remove and let cool.

In the meantime, put Cabbage, Carrot, and Onion through food processor to shred.

Once the Vinegar/Honey mix is cooled, coat slaw well (slaw will lose volume as it sits, so this will be enough dressing). Sprinkle with Celery Seed. Refrigerate.

When ready to serve add Mayonnaise to taste, Salt and Pepper to taste.

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