A couple of weeks ago, my dear friend Krista stopped by unexpectedly while I was making dinner. As I welcomed her inside, she commented on how wonderful my dinner smelled. She tasted a nibble and was smitten, so I told her I’d send her the recipe. Here it is in painstaking, step-by-step detail.
Step 1–Purchase 3 lbs or so of chicken. I do a combination of bone-in thighs/legs and boneless/skinless breasts (for my husband, who likes breasts.) Place chicken in large bowl or bag (whatever makes you happy.)
Step 2–Combine 1 1/2 C buttermilk, 2T salt and 1T black pepper. Pour liquid over chicken pieces. Sauce it up good, make sure everything’s cloaked in a scrim of buttermilk.
Step 3–Get some sleep, preferably about 10 hours. Get up, make coffee, go about your day. When it’s time to make dinner, do the following steps.
Step 4–Send everyone out of the house by whatever means necessary. You’ll need the place to yourself for a couple of hours. No one should see you thus unhinged.
Step 5–Turn on music. Loud, raucous music that makes you want to dance. Happy music, stuff that makes your spirits lift. Select enough music for an hour or more in the kitchen. I like Brazilian music because I don’t understand what they’re saying but it makes me move.
Step 6–Take off your shoes and pull back your hair. Make Alton Brown’s brown rice (I use chicken stock, not water.)
Step 7—Put 3-4 inches of Crisco into a cast-iron dutch oven, place on stove over medium heat. Yes, Crisco. Don’t mess around with substitutions, healthy alternatives, or cheap imitations. C R I S C O. The dutch oven is important for maintaining heat. Don’t argue with me, just do it.
Step 8–Pour a large glass of wine. I prefer mine ice cold, so if I’ve forgotten to chill it, I pour it over ice. I don’t care if that’s “not done,” it’s how I like it. It’s my recipe; write your own if you don’t like it. No judgement.
Step 9–Place 2 1/2 C flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp Ozark seasoning (from Spice House. If you do not have access to the Spice House, first cry, then supplement with additional 1/2 tsp salt), 1 tsp black pepper in a gallon bag. Toss 3-4 pieces of chicken in the flour, then place into hot Crisco. COVER. Cook 5 minutes.
Step 10–Dance. Drink. Sing at the top of your lungs, sing embarrassingly. Dance with the dog.
Step 11–Turn pieces over. COVER. Cook 5 minutes.
Step 12–Dance. Check to make sure the front blinds are closed. Pour another glass.
Step 13–UNCOVER. Cook 5-10 minutes more until evenly browned.
Step 14–Remove cooked pieces from Crisco. Place on wire racks over paper towels (or newspaper–whatever floats your grease-soaking boat.) Drink more wine.
Step 15–Repeat entire process until all of your soaked chicken is cooked. By this point, the rice should be finished. Yes, this takes a long time, thus the repeated entreaties for wine. Now dance.
Step 16–Open another bottle of wine. Turn off stove. Turn off oven. (By this point, you may be so inebriated you’ll need the reminder.)
Step 17–Heat your favorite fried-chicken-accompanying vegetables in your preferred method. Or, if you’re like me, eat them raw.
Step 18–Pour another glass of wine, fill your plate with halfway wholesome eats, totter to your favorite eating place and enjoy.
Step 19–BE CAREFUL, it’s HOT. (I’m looking at you, Thomas Currell)
Step 20–After you’ve consumed a nice plate of the best fried chicken you’ll ever have, you won’t feel like cleaning up. That’s okay. Just make sure all the chicken bits are put away where the dog can’t get them, and go to bed. Sleep it off. You can clean in the morning.
This recipe is not for the faint of heart, for people hooked on cleanliness, for grease-phobics. This is a down-home Southern dish that will make you feel good down to your toes. The brown rice and vegetables offset the questionable nutrition. It’s a fair trade. You’ll want to wipe your kitchen down with 409 after you’re done. Perfectly acceptable.
Sometimes, cooking can be a chore. When you get the chance to turn it into a gleeful celebration of the delectable, slightly bacchanalian side of food, take it. Enjoy it. Who wants to be good all the time? Who *can*?
Have some fried chicken and dance.