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Southern Pan-Fried Chicken

Serves 4 to 6

Yum, yum, yum! I do not fry very often for the obvious reasons, but also because I am a lazy cook when it comes to cleanup. So, I almost forgot how easy and delicious homemade fried chicken is. My mother had been begging for weeks for fried chicken made fresh at our grocery store. I hate to buy that stuff. It tastes good, but is way too salty and the coating is very thick and heavy. So, I felt obliged to make fried chicken myself. A southern friend, Linda Figart, taught me this method years ago and it is my favorite. The secret is in covering the pan for part of the cooking time after the initial browning. It keeps it very moist and, when the lid is removed at the end, it gets very crispy but still has a nice, light crust. Although the recipe calls for a whole chicken cut up, you can use any of your favorite bone-in pieces and make in any amount needed. For a spicier version, add some ground cayenne pepper to the flour. For something a little different but equally good, see the similar and related recipes for Mammy's Pan-Fried Chicken, my grandmother's Pennsylvania Dutch version.


Cut the chicken into 8 pieces, dividing into 2 each of the legs, thighs, wings and breasts. (Freeze the back for a future stock.) Combine the flour, paprika, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper on a plate or piece of waxed paper. Add the pieces of chicken and coat well on all sides, then shake off excess flour mixture. Place enough of the oil in a large skillet to come up about 1/2 inch. Heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin-side down. (Do not overcrowd the pan. If necessary, use 2 pans.) Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, about 3 more minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook about 15 minutes. When chicken is almost done, uncover and increase heat to medium-high. Fry until brown and crispy, about another 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack set over paper towels. If desired, sprinkle tops with a little extra salt. Let the chicken rest at least 5 minutes before serving. This is excellent hot, warm, room temperature or cold, so it is great for a picnic or potluck event.