This is a tried-and-true recipe from my Northwoods Grandma. I’m sure it’s close to just about every other homestyle fried chicken recipe out there. My wife had adapted the recipe for use in an electric non-stick skillet, but you just can’t beat an heirloom antique cast-iron chicken fryer. If you’re lucky enough to own one with a cover, by all means, use it.
A note on the shortening — while not exactly healthy, Crisco® shortening is the traditional way to prepare this dish. You can also use vegetable oil in a pinch. When done, the chicken should read 165° F. in the thickest part of the meat. It will be golden brown when completely cooked, with the juices running clear. Thighs will take longer to cook. Watch the wings so they don’t burn.
Enjoy, this is a recipe I’ve adored since I was a kid.
1 cut up whole fryer chicken, rinsed in cold water and patted dry
1 cup Crisco® vegetable shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. table salt
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic granules
2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 cups room-temperature buttermilk
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbs. reserved flour from the dredge
4 tbs. drippings from the fried chicken
4 tbs. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Prep the chicken and set aside on paper towels, ensuring the pieces are patted dry. Mix the flour dredge ingredients in a wide, deep mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk to another smaller bowl. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk. Then add the pieces to the seasoned flour and coat well. Shake off and place on a serving plate for five minutes. Place them back in the flour dredge, shake off and set aside for another five minutes. Reserve the flour for the gravy in the next step.
Preheat the Crisco shortening in a cast-iron chicken fryer so the temperature reads 325°. The shortening should cover about 3/4″ to 1″ of the bottom of the fryer.
Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, place the chicken pieces in the hot oil and sear until golden brown on one side, about 10-12 minutes. Cover during this process.
Carefully turn the chicken and sear again on the other side. TURN ONLY ONCE. Cover and cook for another 12-15 minutes until evenly golden-brown. Remove and place on a wire baker’s rack. Keep warm in your oven over a cookie sheet or in a covered serving dish set at 225° F.
Preparing the Gravy:
Reserve up to 4 tbs. drippings from the chicken fryer. Place in a heavy 10″ cast-iron pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and butter. Whisk constantly for about ten minutes to form a golden roux. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium and cook until reduced, about ten more minutes. Pour in a gravy boat and serve with mashed or boiled quartered potatoes.
Note: As an option, for even more flavorful chicken, brine it overnight in buttermilk, salt and some hot sauce. Place 2 cups buttermilk in a sealable container with 1 tbs. salt and a few dashes of Tabasco. Mix well, add the chicken, cover and let sit for at least 12 hours. The next day, when ready to fry, you can skip the buttermilk step shown above.