The Unorthodox Epicure — Southern Pan Fried Chicken and a visit with Mr. D

I’ve had more favorite fried chicken versions than Henry VIII had wives.

For most of my years, my father’s Sunday Fried Chicken was the best. But along the way, I favored Kentucky Fried Chicken (only for a few days in 1976), the drumsticks served by the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, the Peg Legs once offered at Long John Silver’s and Grandy’s thighs. Oh, there was also the divine yard bird served at a since-closed motel in Mt. Pleasant, Texas and the plump juicy legs and wings from Ms. P’s Electric Cock in Austin.

I went light on the sides at the Old Country Store. Blame the chicken.

I went light on the sides at the Old Country Store. Blame Mr. D.

Then there was Mr. D’s ‘Heavenly Fried Chicken’ served at The Old Country Store in the tiny town of Lorman, Mississippi. You might’ve heard of the place, since Arthur Davis’ deep-fried chicken is widely considered to be the best in the country. We drove hundreds of miles out of the way to eat Mr. D’s acclaimed specialty and it was worth every drop of gasoline and complaint from the backseat. Light with a pronounced crispiness. Juicy. Perfectly seasoned. Heavenly indeed.

Want to experience a similar nirvana at home? Forgo the deep-fryer and cook it like you’re Daisy Werthan (‘Driving Miss Daisy’).

The author and The Man.

The author and The Man.

Remember the scene in which the protagonist makes fried chicken, rice, biscuits and okra? Not only does this small segment conjure up all the elements of the perfect Southern meal, it’s sort of a culinary history lesson. Deep fryers were few and far between in those days. Also, there wasn’t an aisle at the market dedicated to cooking oils. People back then mostly cooked in rendered fat or shortening. And they fried their chicken in a cast iron skillet.

If you’re willing to do it like Daisy and break out the cast iron pan, you’ll be rewarded with the most succulent crispy-on-the-outside and juicy-on-the-inside chicken outside of Lorman, Mississippi … and Austin, Dallas, Mt. Pleasant … and my father’s kitchen.

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Southern Pan Fried Chicken

Southern Pan Fried Chicken — Crispy-on-the-outside and juicy-on-the-inside. Yardbird nirvana.

Southern Pan Fried Chicken — Crispy-on-the-outside and juicy-on-the-inside. Yard bird nirvana.

5.0 from 6 reviews
Southern Pan Fried Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main/Chicken
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 3½ lb – Chicken (broiler/fryer), cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 cups (approximately) - Milk or buttermilk
  • All-purpose flour (about 2-3 cups)
  • 2 slices - Uncooked bacon
  • Kosher salt & Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Cover chicken with milk/buttermilk and refrigerate for 6-8 hours and preferably overnight.
  2. Drain the chicken.
  3. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. In a cast iron skillet or heavy pan, add about 1-inch of oil and bacon slices. Heat to 325F.
  5. Dredge each seasoned piece in flour — only dredging what you are about to fry. (Flouring the whole bird at once will result in some soggy pieces. You don't want that.)
  6. When oil has reached the proper temperature and bacon has cooked, remove bacon and gently place floured chicken pieces in pan or deep fryer. Do not crowd the pan.
  7. Cook for about 13-15 minutes (less for wings and white meat), turning occasionally to ensure even browning. Keep an eye on the oil temperature! 325 degrees is optimal.
  8. Chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches about 170. Place cooked pieces on a paper plate to drain (this works so much better than a rack).

 

Comments

  1. Very nice!! The overnight marinade is a great idea – The crust looks amazing.

  2. That is A LOT of fried chicken, my friend! This Southern Fried looks amazing! I’m a huge fan of using my cast iron for everything I can, especially frying (gotta love that it keeps the heat so well!), so I will absolutely be trying this. For sure! Fried chicken just says summer and boating to me… or at least thats how I grew up. Thanks for sharing the YUM!

  3. This looks great! Us Southerners love some fried chicken! ;) Oh, and the bacon! Um, YES PLEASE! Thanks for sharing, Adam! :)

  4. Yum! I love the idea of using bacon, thanks for sharing. Really pretty picture by the way.

  5. Hey Adamjholland, its great blog and i love the chicken specially fried its delicious recipe for chicken lover and thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. Bacon fat in the oil…now that is a tip I must try. Your chicken looks so crispy and good.

  7. Oh myyy….Adam! Wow!!! This just took fried chicken to a whole new level. There would be NO complaining from the backseat if you drove me to that place! Actually, yes there would…but it would be more along the lines of “Are we there yet? I want fried chicken NOW!!” lol The fact that you were able to recreate such an equally gorgeous fried chicken is fantastic! Great idea with the bacon! :)

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you Beeta. The pan-fried stuff is delicious and Heavenly in its own right. But if you are ever within 500 miles of The Old Country Store, make the trip. His deep-fried is totally worth the cholesterol spike. Totally.

  8. This looks delicious! I never seem to get the chicken to cook all the way through on a the bone in a pan fry.

  9. So… I have to tell you that two nights ago my hubby said let’s pick up some fried chicken from the grocery for dinner. I said no we can’t because I just read about this fabulous recipe that had bacon in the oil. He said let’s go get the bacon and chicken and you can make it over the 4th. I said I don’ t want to cook over the 4th. He said that’s not cooking. That’s frying. Thanks, Adam!

  10. ok, I’m officially asking for your hand in marriage. Usually I see posts that are double dipped, buttermilk, deep fried versions with those thick crusty shells. Pan Fried chicken was on our table several time a week when I was growing up. Crisco and the skillet made a beautiful moist fried chicken. Simply brined and dipped in flour, salt and peppered. I’m really liking your addition of the bacon grease and the overnight soak in milk instead of salt water.
    ps. confession, I’ve always kinda liked KFC… even longer than a few days in 1976. Happy Frying and Holiday.

    • adamjholland says:

      I do, Lea Ann, so long as you’re willing to take care of my ass in a few years. ;-) Pan fried is the way to go. I like deep-fried, but the recipe has to be … right. Happy frying to you too, my friend.

  11. Thank you Adam! Cant wait to see you again!
    Mr.D

  12. Holy Smokes!!! That looks like the best fried chicken!! Nettie

  13. One of my all-time favorites is fried chicken! Must try your recipe for this soon.

  14. This chicken looks absolutely amazing! I’ve never made southern fried chicken before, but this definitely makes me want to give it a try!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Lisa. I can’t eat it as much as I used to (I guess I can say that about pretty much everything), but I sure do enjoy sinking my teeth into it.

  15. Love this recipe..marinating overnight certainly produces a lovely tender bird ♥

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  1. […] me, it conjures images of chicken & dumplings, fried chicken and porcupine meatballs. My wife, on the other hand, thinks of spaghetti and meatballs and stuffed […]

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