Now, the Lee Brothers' Tuesday Fried Chicken recipe doesn't exactly sound difficult when you first read it. I mean, there are 6 ingredients from start-to-finish (including spices)...but when it comes down to it, good Fried Chicken is intimidating. It's one of those perfected-over-time recipes that Southern women, and a host of restaurants, stake their claim on. And when it comes down to it, it's something completely out of my comfort zone because we just don't eat fried foods at home - they're not not, well, healthy...!
So, I (slightly nervously) began heating up my oil, hoping dinner was going to turn out as well as I imagined it could.
Tuesday Fried Chicken
3 cups of canola oil (or peanut, lard, or clarified butter)
3 pounds chicken legs and thighs (about 6 legs and 6 bone-in thighs)
Lee Bros. All-Purpose Fry Dredge
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees (which you'll use to keep the first batch of chicken warm and crispy while you fry the second batch).
Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet (I used our cast iron skillet, which was perfect) and heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 325 degrees on a candy thermometer. If you don't have a 12-inch skillet, use another pan and fill with a 1/3 of an inch of oil.
For the chicken, I used whole chicken legs and separated the drumsticks from the thighs. Then I rinsed and patted them dry before dredging each piece.
While the recipe calls for sifting the fry dredge ingredients together, I just mixed them well and put the ingredients in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. You could do the same in a big bowl. Don't skimp on the pepper, it's the perfect amount! I then dredged 2 pieces of chicken at a time for my first fry batch (6 pieces in total).
The toughest part of the recipe was keeping the oil at temperature. It definitely caused a bit of stress during the cooking process, but made things fun! We didn't have a candy thermometer - and used an electronic meat thermometer instead - which wasn't ideal. Each time we flipped the chicken the temperature dropped, so it definitely took some management of the heat/flame on our gas stove to keep things as steady as possible. Per the recipe, you're shooting for maintaining the temperature between 325 and 350 degrees.
Once your oil is heated to 325-350 degrees, fry the first batch of chicken until it's golden brown, about 6 minutes. Then, uncover the skillet, turn the chicken pieces with the tongs, and fry for 6 more minutes. By now, the chicken should be golden brown all over. Turn it and fry for 3 minutes, then turn again and fry for 3 minutes on the second side. Once done, transfer the chicken to a plate lined with paper towels and place it in the oven to warm. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
After the frying adventure, we sat down to eat. At first hot, crispy, juicy, flavorful bite, we knew this chicken was GOOD - totally moan-worthy good. Good enough to have company over and 'show off your fried chicken' kind of good. Good, good, good.
The Lee Bros. serve their chicken with a pepper-vinegar (a mixture of dried chilies and white wine vinegar, which infuses for 24 hours). Luckily, we always have some homemade pepper-vinegar on hand.
I'd love to know if anyone else tries this. And what their experiences are. I may need to try adding some additional spices to the dredge next time, just because I can't leave recipes alone!