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Perfect Southern Fried Chicken

Beloved Mississippi food blogger Mary Foreman has a brand new cookbook out. Titled after her blog Deep South Dish, the book is a collection of her homestyle Southern recipes like this perfect fried chicken. Soaked in a buttermilk brine and given a little kick from the addition of hot sauce, this dish, along with those for favorites like Wedge Salad with Comeback Dressing, Tomato Pie and Classic Lemon Squares, are representative of Foreman’s home state (she’s a native of Ocean Springs) and the South in general.

PerfectSouthernFriedChickenBrine 1:

1 (3-4 lb.) whole fryer, cut up
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
8-10 ice cubes

Brine 2:

2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup hot sauce


2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Peanut oil or cooking oil for frying
2 Tbsp. bacon fat, lard or shortening

For Brine 1: In a large non-metallic bowl, dissolve salt in enough water to cover chicken; stir in ice. Add chicken, cover and refrigerate overnight.

For Brine 2: The next morning, drain and return chicken to the bowl. Cover chicken with buttermilk, mix in hot sauce, cover and refrigerate until suppertime.

Drain the chicken in a colander for 15 minutes until room temperature. In a large bowl, whisk flour with all the seasonings. Set aside 1/3 cup of the mixture, then coat the chicken pieces. Place on a rack.

Fill chicken fryer or a cast-iron skillet with enough oil so the chicken will completely submerge. Add the bacon fat. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry chicken in small batches for 10-14 minutes. Regulate the heat to maintain 375 degrees. Drain on paper towels.

For gravy, stir 1/3 cup of flour into 1/3 cup of frying oil in a skillet over medium heat until browned. Add 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and stir until thickened.

Tip: If you don’t have a thermometer, oil is generally ready when a pinch of flour tossed in sizzles.

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