Remember, Southern fried chicken is more about the style than where you’re from. There are so many variances (even among Southern cooks in the same region); it’s all about choosing which tips make it a winner, winner, chicken dinner for you.
1. Cut the breast into thirds
Traditionally, fried chicken is left on the bone. While it’s common to leave the breasts whole or to cut them into two pieces, many people swear by cutting the breast into three pieces because it cooks just as quickly as other pieces. It also guarantees more white meat pieces to go around, although with fried chicken, the dark meat is where it’s at.
2. Buttermilk brine, baby!
The best fried chicken is brined in buttermilk seasoned with salt and pepper (and sometimes other seasonings) for four to 24 hours. The lactic acid tenderizes the meat over time. This buttermilk brine also gives the chicken that authentic Southern “twang” — like our accents, I guess. If you don’t have buttermilk, use regular milk.
3. Batter or breading?
Generally it’s breading. Batter is more like what you get from Long John Silver’s chicken, which is freaking awesome but not what most people think of when you say, “Southern-fried.”
4. Hot sauce or cayenne?
Either or both is fine, actually. Unless you are attempting a spicy chicken, it’s just there in a high-enough quantity to add depth. If you have a sensitivity, you could easily try paprika, soy sauce or fish sauce (just reduce the salt if you use the latter two).
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