Foolproof Fried Chicken – Backyard Poultry

and cookies and coleslaw.

Story and photos by Rita Heikenfeld.

THERE’S SOMETHING SUITABLE FOR THE SOUL about biting into a piece of fried chicken that’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
I use a two-part cooking method to fry chicken that tastes delicious hot, at room temperature, or packed in a cooler for a picnic.

Brown the chicken on all sides on the stove top, then finish in the oven for a moist inside and a crispy outside. Cornstarch and baking powder are included for an ultra crispy crust. I used chicken thighs for this recipe. A whole chicken cut into pieces or your choice of chicken with skin and bones
pieces can be replaced.

Serve with a side of buttermilk cookies and coleslaw and you have a memorable meal.

The blend of spices and herbs seals in the flavor and adds zest to this recipe.


3 pounds chicken – I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Spice mix
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tbsp + 1 tsp black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons granulated dried garlic or garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons of salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons of spice mix.
Flour mix
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons of salt
1 liter vegetable or peanut oil for frying


Spice mix
Whisk together the paprika, black pepper, oregano, garlic, dry mustard and cayenne pepper. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the spice mix to add to the marinade.
Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, salt, black pepper and 2 tablespoons of the spice blend in a bowl.
Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat all sides.
Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Flour mix
When ready to fry, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and remaining spice blend in a very large bowl.
With tongs, remove the chicken from the marinade, and put it in the flour
mix, one piece at a time. When all the chicken is in the bowl, mix the
pieces until well coated.
Use your hands to press the flour mixture onto each piece so that it sticks well. This will be messy, but ensures that the breading stays on the chicken when you fry it.
Place chicken on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.

Cook the chicken
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the oil to 375 degrees in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Place the chicken pieces in a single layer, skin side down in the skillet. Don’t overload. The temperature will drop to 350 degrees and this is the best temperature to maintain. Cook in small batches and monitor the temperature.
After about 5 minutes, the chicken will have a nice golden color on the first side. Dismiss the temptation to swirl it around in the pan for the first few minutes so the coating doesn’t flake off.
Carefully flip the chicken over and cook until the other side is nicely browned, about 5 minutes more.
Place chicken on a clean rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
Place in the oven and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 175 degrees. It takes between 5 and 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve hot, at room temperature or chilled.

Why marinate in buttermilk?
• Buttermilk, with its acids and enzymes, helps break down protein in chicken, making it tender.
Bake the chicken at 175 degrees.
• Chicken is well done at 165 degrees, but I like to cook thighs and thighs with bone and skin at 175 degrees. This softens the connective tissue, resulting in a more tender piece of chicken.

What’s fried chicken without fluffy homemade cookies?


Fold the dough after the first rolling to get flaky cookies.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon of salt
⅓ cup chilled shortening
1 cup buttermilk
Melted butter to brush the top

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Whisk the dry ingredients together.
Chop the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk.
Mix well. The dough may be slightly sticky.
Place on a very lightly floured surface. Knead a little to bring the dough together.
Pat or roll to a ¾-inch thickness. Fold in half, then pat or roll again to ¾-inch thickness.
Cut as desired.
Brush the tops with melted butter and bake in the preheated oven for about 13 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Makes about 12 cookies.


Toss with red and green cabbage and shredded carrots for a colorful coleslaw.
1 cup real mayonnaise
3 to 4 tablespoons of sugar
Up to ¼ cup lemon juice – start with 3 tbsp
2 tablespoons of vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Just whisk everything together until smooth. Store in the fridge for up to a week. If the dressing separates in the refrigerator, whisk before serving.

RITA HEIKENFELD comes from a family of wise women in harmony with nature. She is a Certified Modern Herbalist, Culinary Educator, Author, and National Media Personality. More importantly, she is a wife, a mother and a grandmother. Rita lives in a little piece of heaven overlooking the East Fork River in Clermont County, Ohio. She is a former assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, where she developed a comprehensive herbal course. column: rita@communitypress. com

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