Southern American Fried Chicken
There was this article published on NDTV's (A very popular electronic and web-media from India) website where the writer wrote about soaps from the west influencing our culinary taste. I was amazed. The writer could not have been more accurate. I am sure for all of us who are glued to different television series watching our favourite characters eat with gusto makes us crave a certain food item and so all through our early and late teenage lives we have craved hamburgers and fried chicken and cheesy pizzas and food from a whole different world.
I remember what a craze it was to eat at KFC when they opened their gates in Kolkata towards the end of my high school years . At first they only had one outlet in one corner of the city (City Center) and since I did not frequent that part of town , I did not get the fuss over 'this crispy delight' that many of my classmates were talking about. Some even mentioned how they ate the fried coating a la Joey style (Joey from the soap opera Friends) Then another outlet opened right in the heart of the city on Middleton Row off Park Street. I was delighted. It was a mere 2 km from my home and for years after that I had gorged on their Fried Chicken. Of course the website being the window to all corners of the world and I , being a food enthusiast, tried to get as much of information as possible about this humble dish from Southern America. While I tried gathering information I checked out a few recipes and it seemed unbelievably easy to make but somehow that did not deter me from visiting several outlets of KFC which had sprung up like mushrooms in the city. From my visits I could see what a great business it was doing. Then one day I grew up with all the hullabaloo of college life . I had completed my graduation moved on to post graduation and then something happened to me.
My husband is one of those patriotic, conscious and environment friendly people. He has this theory that all the money that we put in when we visit a Fast Food Chain restaurant goes to the United States of America's pocket and so we should stay away from these places. I personally am much more global in my outlook. For me food can connect everyone but his opinion made me think in a different direction. Perhaps it was his words which had some effect and then I discovered Chicken farcha - an amazing Parsi Fried Chicken which was so delicious that I though that KFC's chicken was both expensive and well it was destroying our own culinary heritage. I went back to Calcutta and had this urge to discover my own city's street food which had somehow been buried under glittery fast food chain restaurants and newer cafes. I found this supreme taste in our humble Chicken cutlets from North Calcutta .
I welcome the sharing of food from all around the world but when that destroys one's culture's food it is extremely wrong and then of course I searched the internet high and low for information on Fried Chicken from all over the world and I was surprised that most regions in the world have a version of crispy delights.
I still love my Southern American style fried chicken. I love having it with mashed potatoes and gravy but when it can be so easily made at home why waste time , money , energy on a fast food joint. I searched through many recipes , vintage ones, new ones, recipes from the best prints of the world such as New York Times and Washington post etc and finally decided to try this recipe. This is someone's great grandmother's recipe and I am very grateful that she has shared the recipe . It makes crispy delicious chicken
Before we begin one must remember that the rules for Fried Chicken are simple but they must be followed :-
- The chicken must be fresh
- The skin of the chicken must be there
- The long hours of marination does render the chicken soft and tender
- Pork Fat makes everything more tasty (but this can be omitted for personal reasons which is sad)
What you need is:
1.2 kilogram of chicken with the skin on cut in medium sized pieces
Buttermilk 600ml (If you do not have the real buttermilk you can try a substitute such as curd diluted with water but it doesn't taste the same)
Salt and pepper as per taste
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper
Oil for frying (refined oil )
Pork Fat 50gm
A tough paper bag or plastic bag to shake the chicken in
I started off by marinating the chicken pieces in salt , pepper and buttermilk in a large container so that all the pieces remained soaked. I let the chicken pieces soak for about 8 hours . I personally believe a greater amount of marination renders softer chicken so soaking it as per the time in your hands does the work.
Once one is ready to fry the chicken bring the pot of chicken soaked in buttermilk. Now remove the chicken on to a clean plate. Take the flour, ground pepper, paprika and salt in the bag and put the chicken pieces in it and shake well to coat now soak it in the buttermilk and redo the bag shake bit. Meanwhile heat the oil with the pork fat and when its hot (it must be hot) reduce the heat and put in your chicken pieces. Cook for 6 minutes on each side on low heat and then increase the heat and fry for 2 minutes on each side till it reaches a dark golden colour and serve. You can either serve it with mashed potatoes or rice soaked in gravy.
Remember to clean the skillet after frying 6 pieces to 7 pieces of chicken so that you get the sediment off the skillet. Just carefully gather the oil and then remove the sediment and re-fry with added oil and pork fat . Store this sediment for a smashing gravy.