I'm from The South, more specifically Texas. We eat lots of deliciously unhealthy things like fried okra, chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, Texas sheet cake, and fried chicken.
But we take the fried chicken to another level, a Southern level if you will.
We smother it and the mashed taters next to it with some country gravy.
I've also made a sausage gravy, and that was divine, but I didn't this time.
My husband's not from Texas, so he was a little hesitant the first time I made this, but he's a convert now. He might as well be born and raised Southern Baptist!
Now you can dip some chicken in some flour and salt and an egg and fry you up some chicken, but I'm telling you, it won't even come close to the thick, crispy crust on this chicken.
Chicken Fried Chicken with Country Gravy
chicken breasts, pounded 1/4" thick
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 t pepper
1 t paprika
1/2 t cayenne
1/2 c milk
1/4 c flour
3 T pan drippings
3 c milk
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Put the salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, crackers, flour, and baking powder in a gallon size ziplock bag.
Crush crush crush (I use a tenderizer, be careful to not puncture the bag) until the crackers are broken down, but not pulverized. You still want some small chunks.
At this point, you want to heat some oil (I use canola, but vegetable or melted crisco is a little more traditional and a little more unhealthy, but delicious :) in a large frying pan or iron skillet until it has reached 350 degrees. Once it reaches temperature, turn down the heat slightly so it maintains where it's at instead of continuing to heat up the temperature. Keep in mind that once you add the chicken, the temperature will lower, so you only have to turn the heat down slightly.
You could also do this in a deep fryer if you have one.
Make your egg dip with the eggs and milk beaten in a bowl.
Dip the thinned-out chicken in the cracker and flour mixture to lightly coat.
Then place dipped chicken into egg mixture, cover all sides.
Place chicken back into cracker and flour mixture, ensuring chicken has a nice, thick coating.
Carefully place the chicken in the frying pan. It should immediately begin sizzling. If it doesn't, your oil isn't hot enough and you should take it out until it reaches temperature.
You see how the very edges on the bottom have that nice brown color? It's time to flip.
You want to avoid flipping back and forth several times because it soaks up more oil that way.
You should only flip once.
Turn on your oven or toaster oven to warm (180-200 degrees) for later.
Oh yes, nice and golden. Sizzle sizzle.
Once the chicken has cooked and both sides are nice and golden brown crispy, place pieces on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet in the warm oven or toaster oven.
This will keep them from getting soft and cold while you make the gravy.
Now for the gravy, you want all the browned bits you see at the bottom of the oil.
Flavor savers if you will.
To do this, slowly pour all of the oil into another container, and you'll see that the brown bits will stay in the pan on the bottom. Stop draining when you have several tablespoons left of oil/bits.
Crank up the heat again to low.
We're going to make a roux.
A roux is the base of any cream sauce. It's oil or melted butter mixed with flour to make a thick paste.
Whisk in your flour, again making sure the heat is on low so it doesn't burn.
See? Unappetizing paste. Perfect.
Next, slowly whisk in your milk. The roux needs time to absorb the milk, and it can't do this if you dump it all in at one time. Otherwise you end up with clumps of flour. I do about 1/2 c of milk at a time. Continue until it's as thick as you'd like, about 3 cups. It will continue to thicken if it just sits there, so keep your serving time in mind.
Add the remaining spices, adjust for your liking (spicy, salty, peppery, whatever!).
This chicken MUST be served with mashed potatoes, so at this point, I'm assuming you've made them.
I keep the skins on half of mine sometimes, gives it a little nutritional value...