You are here: HomeRecipesPoultrySitara's Honest To Goodnes Real Southern Fried Chicken
Truly authentic, truly delicious Southern Fried Chicken really isn't hard to make, you just haven't found the right Fried Chickenrecipe...until now.  This  recipe  has played a starring role in every family reunion, company picnic, and church potluck supper through the generations in Tennessee and elsewhere in the South.

The real secret is in the two long soaks - first in brine, then in buttermilk. The saltwater soak makes the meat flavorful and juicy.   ( Don't you think it's cute that today's "modern" chefs are all atwitter about brining everything?)  The buttermilk tenderizes the meat and further enhances the flavor. You may adjust the seasonings in the dredge to suit your family's taste, but never omit the two long soaks, even if you don't happen to be a fan of buttermilk.

Preparation time:  Overnight
Cooking time: About 35 min.
Yield: 4-5 servings (2 pcs. each)

4-5 lbs. chicken pieces
4 cups salt brine
1½ cups buttermilk
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. black  pepper
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground sage
1 cup flour for dredging
Oil or shortening to fill skillet ½ inch deep (in the old days they used lard, peanut or canola works too)

Preparation and Cooking:

1.  Salt brine: Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 4 cups of cold water.
2.  Place chicken pieces in a large glass bowl, add enough salt brine to cover, protect with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to soak overnight

3.  Next morning, drain off the salt brine and add 1½ cups buttermilk to the bowl. Allow the chicken to soak in the buttermilk for a couple of hours (or until ready to cook) turning the chicken several times to make sure all the pieces get a good soak.

4.  Dredge: Add salt, pepper, paprika and sage  to 1 cup of flour.

5.  In a very large, heavy skillet or cast iron frying pan, add vegetable oil or shortening to ½"  deep, and heat over a medium flame. Too high a heat will scorch the flour. Too low a temperature will make it taste greasy. Southern Grannies tested the temperature by dropping a pinch of flour into the hot oil. If it quickly bubbled up without smoking, they knew it was right.  (If you want to be all scientific about everything, heat the oil to 350.)

6.  Dredge each piece of the buttermilk-coated chicken in your seasoned flour and place them skin side down in the skillet.  (We used to take a brown paper "lunch bag" and put the seasoned flour in it and shake the chicken in the bag to coat it)  Try not to crowd the pieces in the pan to achieve the best all-over crispiness. Use two frying pans, if necessary, rather than cooking in batches, to save time.

7.  Cover the pan with a loose fitting lid to vent some of the steam and cook to a deep golden brown (approx. 15 min.). Turn the chicken over with tongs and cook an additional 15 min. or until deep golden brown. The juices run clear and there is no sign of pink near the bone on well-cooked chicken. Adjust your cooking time and temperature, if necessary.  Do NOT fiddle with the chicken.   Only turn it once.

8.  Drain the cooked chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet in a warm oven for 10 to 15 minutes.    This resting time is quite important.   Really good fried chicken has to 'set a spell' before you eat it.    I don't know why this makes a big difference in the taste but it really does!!

9.  Arrange  the chicken on a warm platter to take it to the table.

Sit back and wait for the compliments to roll in. Your family may never want that "fast food" chicken again.