|Similar to our beloved southern fried chicken, a boneless, skinless chicken breast is pounded thin, dredged in flour and fried. Served with a drizzle of creamy milk gravy made from some of the pan drippings, it is truly good ole comfort food.|
Chicken Fried ChickenSounds a little silly doesn't it? I mean fried chicken is just, well, fried chicken, how could it be a chicken fried chicken? Right? A Facebook reader posed that very oddity when I mentioned I was making Chicken Fried Chicken for Sunday supper. It really just refers to the preparation - a method similar to chicken fried steak - and, what sets it apart from traditional bone-in fried chicken. For this dish, a boneless, skinless chicken breast is pounded flat, sort of like a schnitzel, then dredged in flour and fried. Then, like it's kissing cousin, it is served with a drizzle of creamy milk gravy made from some of the pan drippings. Good ole southern comfort indeed.
One advantage to the huge chicken breasts that you find in the stores today is that once you pound them out, you can usually get two cutlets out of one breast. You're not tenderizing here, so all you need is a simple rubber mallet, the flat side of a tenderizer, or even a simple rolling pin to pound the thicker part of the breast flat. Once flattened and cut, sprinkle the chicken with water, then season on both sides with a light sprinkling of Cajun seasoning. You may also do a milk and egg wash. Just beat together 1 cup of milk with 2 large eggs.
Dredge the chicken cutlets in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and set aside on a rack. If using the egg wash, dip in flour, then in the egg wash, then back into the flour. Heat about an inch of canola oil in a skillet with a couple tablespoons of bacon fat for extra flavor.
I don't use the egg and milk wash and the photographs here are without it, but I do like to give them another dredge in the flour just before frying them. Drop them in the hot oil, cook until golden brown on both sides, and drain on a clean rack while you make some gravy out of the pan drippings and some milk.
To save time, you can extract 1/4 cup of the pan drippings from the chicken fryer before you start the last batch of chicken frying and get the gravy going in a separate skillet, while you finish the chicken. Taste the gravy, season with salt and pepper and adjust to your taste.
Plate immediately, spooning some gravy over the chicken, and serve with some homemade mashed potatoes and a green vegetable. Pure heaven y'all.
Recipe: Chicken Fried Chicken with Southern Peppered Milk Gravy© From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 15 min | Yield: 4 servings
For the Gravy:
- 2 cups of White Lily self rising flour
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 6 turns of the pepper grinder
- Egg wash, optional, if desired (see notes below)
- Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
- 3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat
- Canola oil for the skillet, plus 2 tablespoons of bacon fat
- Pan drippings to equal 1/4 cup
- Reserved 1/4 cup of seasoned flour
- 1-1/2 cups of milk
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Use a rubber mallet to pound the thicker part of the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap until breast is flattened and even. Remember you're not tenderizing - just making them even. Cut in half if large. Place a rack over a baking sheet covered with paper towels; set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper; remove and set aside 1/4 cup of the seasoned flour mixture for the gravy. Lightly sprinkle the flattened chicken breasts with water, then the Cajun seasoning and dredge them in the remaining flour, shaking to remove the excess flour. Reserve the flour. Let them rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Just before cooking the chicken, dredge them into the flour again if desired, shaking off excess.
Heat the canola oil and bacon fat in a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet over a medium high heat. Cook the chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding the skillet, until browned on the bottom; turn and finish cooking until golden brown and cooked through. Place onto the rack of the prepared pan and tent very loosely with aluminum foil to hold.
Remove all of the oil from the skillet except for 1/4 cup (or transfer 1/4 cup of pan drippings into a new skillet), and over medium heat, sprinkle in the 1/4 cup of reserved seasoned flour a little at a time. Cook, stirring constantly until a light blond color. Slowly whisk in the milk until fully incorporated and until mixture begins to thicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let cook for a few minutes. Add additional milk or water if needed to reach desired consistency. Taste, season with salt and plenty of pepper.
Place a piece of chicken on each plate and spoon a bit of the gravy across the center of the chicken. Serve immediately with homemade mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.
Cook's Notes: I do not use a milk and egg wash and the photos on the website were made without it, however if you are more comfortable with that, simply beat 1 cup of milk with 2 large eggs and dip the chicken into the flour, the egg wash and back in the flour, before frying.
Tip: Remove 1/4 cup of the pan drippings and start the gravy in another skillet while the last batch of chicken is cooking to speed things up. Brining makes a difference so if you have time, brine the chicken in advance. Place into a zipper bag filled with water and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt for about 2 hours. Drain well and proceed.
Saltine Variation: Increase flour to 4 cups and season with salt and pepper; take out 1/4 cup of the seasoned flour and set that aside for the gravy. Divide the remaining seasoned flour into 2 bowls. Crush one sleeve of saltine crackers fine and mix with one bowl of the flour. Whisk together 1 cup of milk with one egg. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour. Dip into the milk and egg mixture and dredge in the cracker crumb mixture. Set on a rack until ready to fry.
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