Kate's Cuisine

Nov 23 2011

Southern Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy: Review

I got this book from the “American Cooking” volume of the Time Life Classics series, a delicious encyclopedia resource covering cuisine from all different regions of the world – France, Germany, Italy, and yes, America. My mother-in-law gave me the books just a few weeks ago, and I’ve just been feeding my culinary passion every second I get to sit down and look at them.

The series is especially cool because for each region, there’s a large 200-page or so hardback book explaining the different dishes, the influences on the region, and the traditions and culture of the people as they relate to food. To go along with each of these in-depth looks at the different areas around the globe, there is a little pullout recipe book so you can then cook all the delicious delicacies that you just read about. What can I say? Actual recipes and an entire wealth of food knowledge, all at my fingertips? My MIL is a fellow foodie at heart and is one of the few people I’ve met that loves food just as much as I do. Only a true chef at heart could know just how great these books are, and I’m so thankful that my mother-in-law thought to give them to me.

In this particular book, the author talks about how he took his wife to the South once and she had never had authentic fried chicken before (poor thing!) After she devoured all of it, and then sucked whatever she could off the bones, he had to explain to her that that particular fried chicken had been made the correct way – the way outlined in this recipe. He then goes on to say that every cook in the South has a different way of preparing fried chicken – they batter it in beer, they batter it in flour, they dust it in flour, or they dust it in different seasonings, or they don’t dust it in anything at all. Every way is different, and you can tell each way apart just after you’ve tasted the chicken.

I have to say, I have to agree with him in that there are many different ways to prepare chicken and this is the only right way. I’ve tried it many different ways (almost all of the ways he outlined in the book) and this is by far the best. I’ve tried soaking the chicken in batter, even overnight, and it doesn’t seem to matter – the coating still always falls off. The key with preventing that from happening with this recipe is to let the flour sit on the chicken for at least 15 minutes at room temperature. Then just make sure your fat is piping hot and you’ll be fine. I’ve also heard that the paper bag is essential, but I’ve tried it with a plastic resealable bag and it seemed to turn out just fine.

One more thing about this recipe – the gravy reminded me of KFC’s chicken gravy, which I totally love, but is that bad that food from scratch reminds me of fast food?

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