As with many dishes throughout history, the advent of Southern fried chicken was the result of several different events converging. Fried chicken was a West African delicacy brought over to the United States by slaves, the mass production of pork in the South made lard readily available, and the popularity of cast-iron cookware in the 19th century created the fried chicken we now associate with the South.
The key to keeping the chicken moist during frying is to marinate it overnight. Buttermilk imparts a slightly creamy taste to the meat that complements the crispy, savory crust perfectly.
- 4 Pounds bone-in, skin-on, chicken thighs or drumsticks
- 3 Cups lard
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- 1 Teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 Cup potato starch
- 1/4 Cup tapioca starch
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Teaspoon black pepper
- 2 Cups full-fat buttermilk
Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. In a resealable plastic bag, combine the chicken, buttermilk, and salt and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain the chicken in a colander, then let dry on a wire rack over a baking sheet for 30 minutes.
Combine the starches and seasonings in a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. Heat the lard in a cast-iron skillet to 340-350°F. Coat the chicken in the seasonings, shaking off the excess, then fry the chicken in batches until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 10 minutes per side. Place the cooked chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet in a warm (170°F) oven as you fry the other pieces.
Serve with rice and collard greens.