It’s been raining here in Tennessee for two straight weeks. This is football season. There is supposed to be a cobalt blue sky, a brisk coolish breeze and the smell of burning leaves in the air. But it is 85 degrees, raining, and I just feel damp from the inside out. It’s a wonder I’m not growing the same green fuzz that’s attached itself to my outdoor deck. This is what it looks like at CRC. We call that mass of water in the parking lot “the lake”. Betsy and I just sit in our lawn chairs at the dock door and almost start to cry.
So last night I was so depressed I decided to make fried chicken. Who doesn’t smile at fried chicken? And that brings up the story of my T-Fal Super Deep Fryer.
It sort of looks like a little robot, sitting there on the counter, doesn’t it? It used to be that when you were a new mother and you had to get up at 2 a.m. to give your precious his bottle that there was just nothing to do but stare at the ceiling while you fed the baby. Then QVC came along! QVC was a new mother’s best friend. There were actual live people talking to you at 2 in the morning! And they had pretty things to sell you. You’d be amazed what looked good at 2 a.m. that you’d never buy otherwise. There were the black satin sheets that made Mark almost slide off the bed. There were the fake diamond earrings that looked absolutely convincing except they were kind of tinted pink which I don’t think occurs in nature. And there were cooking gadgets presented by a fake chef named Bob.
I fell for the T-Fal Super Deep Fryer because Bob was frying up some doughnuts in it and they sure looked good. Who doesn’t want a deep-fried doughnut every now and again, especially at 2 in the morning when you have sour milk all over your shoulder? So I bought the blamed thing. And it arrived. And I fried doughnuts. And they were just O.K. so I didn’t do that again. In fact, I put the deep fryer in the junk room and it stayed there for, oh, another 15 years.
Then last night I wanted fried chicken. I know all good Southern women cook fried chicken in a cast iron skillet, but I can’t seem to get around the fact that there’s always a dark spot where the chicken’s sat too long against the cast iron. And I’d read that if you deep fry the chicken you’ll know when it’s done because it bobs to the surface. And Mark said, why don’t you get out the T-Fal Super Deep Fryer, which I had completely forgotten I still had.
It was pretty dusty but you know after 15 years the damn thing still worked like a charm. The chicken was really good, super crunchy on the outside and super moist on the inside. Now the deep fryer is sitting on my less-than-spacious counter with the oil still in it because Mark decided we should fry something else up before we dump the oil. I think it’s going to be Tater Tots tomorrow night.
So here’s the secret to fried chicken: First off, soak it in buttermilk for at least four hours. Buttermilk makes the chicken tender. Then add enough hot sauce to your beaten eggs that it turns it pink. You won’t taste it in the fried chicken but it gives it a little zing. Then after you dip it the chicken in the eggs and the flour, let the pieces sit on a wire rack for a few minutes. That helps the flour stick to the chicken when you dunk it in the oil.