Local Harvest Cafe & Catering Chef Clara Moore's Fried Chicken

"My version is almost exactly as my mother made it (I added mustard powder for another dimension of savory flavor), but the secrets to making really great fried chicken are in the ingredients and the technique," says Local Harvest Cafe & Catering Chef Clara Moore.

Local Harvest Cafe & Catering Chef Clara Moore's Fried Chicken

Yield | 10 pieces |

  • 1 whole chicken, rinsed well and cut into 10 pieces
  • 2½ cups buttermilk, divided
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup yellow mustard powder, such as Coleman’s
  • 2 tsp ground cayenne
  • lard or peanut oil

| Preparation | Place the chicken in 2 cups buttermilk and soak 1 to 12 hours. In a large bowl, whisk remaining buttermilk with eggs, 2 Tbsp salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, mustard powder, cayenne and remaining salt. Set a thick-bottomed pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, over medium heat and fill with 2 inches of lard or oil. Using the clean hand method*, dip the chicken pieces in the wet ingredients first and then the dry ingredients and then back in the wet ingredients. Dip all pieces before proceeding.

Once the oil reaches about 350ºF (or when a test piece of chicken bubbles quickly), carefully place just enough pieces of chicken in the pan to cover the bottom. Be sure not to crowd the chicken. Flip the pieces as necessary and fry until golden-brown. Remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Once the pieces are done frying, keep them warm in a 200ºF oven.

* The clean hand method: Use one hand in the dry ingredients and the other hand in the wet ingredients to reduce batter buildup on your digits.

CLARA'S NOTES: It’s undeniable that fried chicken is an American classic, with innumerable variations on what is a pretty simple dish. My version is almost exactly as my mother made it (I added mustard powder for another dimension of savory flavor), but the secrets to making really great fried chicken are in the ingredients and the technique.

Start with a pasture-raised, hormone-free chicken – preferably one that is slaughtered on-site or by a small slaughterhouse (these operations tend to be cleaner and safer). The buttermilk should be of good quality and the eggs should be farm-fresh with beautiful yolks, as these ingredients add a ton of moisture and flavor to the chicken. Last but not least, I use lard to fry my chicken. Nutritionally, lard has more available vitamins (including the best source of vitamin D) and less saturated fat than most cooking oils. It has a higher smoke point than other fats, too, which means you can cook the chicken at a higher temperature, allowing it to absorb less grease.

The batter recipe and frying techniques in this recipe are amazingly universal. Use them to fry zucchini, fish, onions, pickles or broccoli. You can put your spin on the flavor of your batter by adding chile powder, Italian herbs, curry powder or Old Bay seasoning to the flour mixture. You can play with the texture by adding flaxseed or cornmeal as well. This fried chicken is great the next day, perfect for packing in a picnic basket or a lunchbox. I like to serve it with creamy potato salad, sautéed greens, cornbread and pickles.

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