With “The Help”, cash registers in chicken chains are probably going ka-ching this week.
The film centers around three women who brave the odds to tell the stories of black domestic help serving white women in the ’60s, in pre-civil-rights Mississippi.
Sure, it was a lovely film. I was dabbing my eyes incessantly and thoroughly soaking the single tissue I had. And Viola Davis was magnificent, lending gravitas to the movie with her beautifully nuanced portrayal of Abileen, a character facing personal tragedy and immense social injustice. (Someone give the lady an Oscar, already!)
But there was another star who may have stole the show and, I’m almost embarassed to say, kept me awake that night: sizzling fried chicken. Heh.
In the film, there were parades of freshly battered chicken crackling in the skillet, and close-ups of ladies taking bites of juicy meat.
That night, these scenes kept replaying in my mind…
… And there went by hours of counting drumsticks in my attempts to fall asleep.
The next morning, I knew I just had to get my hands on some fried chicken.
So I issued myself a challenge: cook – instead of buying – some good ol’ Southern chicken to satiate those cravings.
Here’s the recipe I used, adapted from here.
Southern Fried Chicken
10 (or around 2kg) chicken thighs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
8 cups vegetable oil for frying
1. Put the flour in a large paper bag. Season the flour with paprika, salt and pepper.
2. Soak the chicken pieces in buttermilk for at least 10 minutes.
3. Put the chicken into the bag by batch. Seal and shake the bag – ala Minny in ‘The Help’! – to coat the chicken pieces well.
4. Place the coated chicken on a tray and cover with a clean dish towel, till the flour is of a paste-like consistency.
5. Fill the skillet or deep-frying pan (cast iron is best as it maintains temperature) about 1/3 to 1/2 full with vegetable oil. Heat till very hot, to ensure chicken is crispy.
6. Depending on the size of skillet, put in as many chicken pieces as possible, being careful not to overcrowd it as it lowers the temperature. Brown chicken in hot hoil on both sides. Once browned, reduce heat and cover skillet, allowing it to cook through for 30 minutes.
7. Remove cover and raise heat again and fry to ensure crispiness.
8. Once ready, drain the fried chicken on paper towels.
9. Fry the other batches of chicken, and keep finished chicken in slightly warmed oven before serving.
Makes 10 pieces.
And the finished product:
Oh, so sinful, but rather yummy!
Disclaimer: The author bears no responsibility whatsoever for soaring cholesterol levels and addictions developed from this recipe.