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Fried Chicken

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This finger-lickin' main dish could very well be the gold of the south... after cotton, and maybe sugar. Everybody's got a different way of doing it, whether marinating it in buttermilk, coating in egg, self-rising flour, plain flour, and all the other variations -- but it seems the simplest recipes are usually the yummiest.

This recipe is my great grandmother's. My grandfather says it's the reason he married my grandmother, because every Sunday he knew he had a home-cooked, Southern meal coming his way. He grew up in Ossining, NY, but it's likely that this chicken made him into the Southern man he is today.

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Mix together the flour, salt and pepper in a brown paper bag or large Ziploc bag. Be careful if you use a paper bag, sometimes they can rip due to the moisture of the chicken.

Step 1: Mix flour

Add two or three large spoonfuls of Crisco to a cast-iron skillet (or a regular, not non-stick, frying pan) and allow it to begin melting over medium-high heat. When it's heated and fully melted, sprinkle a pinch of flour into it. The Crisco is ready when the flour fries on contact.

Step 2: Add Crisco to pan

Mix water and eggs together in a medium bowl.

Step 3: Mix water and eggs

Coat each piece of chicken with the egg mixture. It is best to add a few pieces to the bowl and toss them around to make sure each piece gets fully coated.

Step 4: Coat chicken in egg mixture

Add one piece of chicken at a time to the bag with your flour mixture. Seal it, and shake what your mama gave ya... just make sure the bag doesn't bust a hole.

Step 5: Shake the chicken in flour

Slowly add each piece of chicken to the frying pan. BE CAREFUL! The oil will splatter a little bit when you add the chicken slowly, but if you make any sudden movements or just plop the chicken in, you will have hot oil everywhere. And, don't crowd the pan, 4 pieces of chicken is usually the max.

Step 6: Add the chicken to the pan.

Dark meat will take the longest to cook, usually 13-14 minutes total. Flip each piece after it browns on one side. The timing is NOT an exact science -- it doesn't matter where you are, South or otherwise, we like our chicken well-done. That being said, white meat will take 8-10 minutes on average.

Step 7: Flip the chicken

As you remove each piece of chicken from the pan, place it on a plate with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Make sure you check that each piece is fully cooked -- this means no pink, even up close to the bone.

Step 8: Drain on paper towels

IServe it straight from the frying pan if you can, but be sure to warn your diners that it's hot... then watch for the first person to ignore your warning.

Happy eating, y'all.

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