the best fried chicken

(my mother’s)

I know there are people who will argue with the title, and I might even contest it myself. But it’s really good chicken, and it has the virtue of being free of any breading. I didn’t eat breaded fried chicken until I was an adult. My mother apparently didn’t believe in it. She had an aversion to anything she perceived as being too oily, and so she always fried her chicken with no more covering than herbs and spices.

Although we ate it year round, this is a great summer chicken. It’s light but still has plenty of crunch. And as always, the skin is the best part.

My mother had a regular arsenal of herbs and spices and she would just sprinkle them on once she had laid the pieces in the pan. I have opted to let the chicken set awhile with the herb blend, salt and pepper. I wouldn’t call it a marinade, as there’s no liquid involved, but the salt helps draw the flavors in.

You can use any blend of herbs you like and you can fry in any medium you like, but I use a combination of vegetable oil, olive oil and a small amount of butter. The oils keep the butter from burning, while it can still contribute its flavor.

a true village chicken, complete with pin feathers

Fried Chicken – gluten free!

1 chicken, preferably organic, cut up into two wings, two thighs, two legs, two backs, and if the breast is big, up to four pieces, otherwise two – wash and dry the chicken

Herbs – a mix of dried herbs according to your preference –I use herbes de provence, about 2 Tbsp

Spices – paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed – about ½ tsp each, and a pinch of cayenne – or you can also use a mix, such as Mrs Dash (this is a good use for blends like this), in which case about 2 tsp.

Salt and black pepper to taste (about ½ to 1 tsp of ea)

In a large bowl, rub all the chicken pieces with the herbs, spices, salt and pepper. Let rest at least 30 minutes and up to a few hours (in which case in the fridge).

In a large frying pan (non stick is not necessary) add about 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil, 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter. You can use less if you have a non stick, if you prefer.

Heat the oils over medium high heat until the butter melts and a piece of chicken placed in the pan sputters without spitting violently (in other words, fairly hot but not too hot). Add the rest of the chicken pieces. One chicken should fit comfortable in a 12-in skillet.

Turn the chicken after about 10 minutes – it should be golden brown. Cook on the other side another ten minutes and then turn again. I usually cook the chicken in total about 40-45 minutes. You can test a piece to see if it is done to your liking.

Remove and drain briefly on paper towels, and serve.

I served this with a zaatar potato salad, a tomato and basil salad with homemade ricotta, and a fruit salad with rose syrup (recipes forthcoming).



the best fried chicken — 1 Comment

  1. I am getting the chicken tonight to try this dish…..this recipe reminds me of ‘fried chicken’ in southeast asia, where the pieces are well seasoned and pan fried. The chicken keeps well on the counter of hawkers who serve it over coconut or turmeric rice accompanied by lightly curried vegetables. Will post photos after my venture!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

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