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Great Southern Fried Chicken: Can a Yankee Master the Art?

April 25, 2015


When as a Yankee I married a Virginian, one of my first cooking lessons was learning to fry chicken. My husband’s brothers and my new sister-in-law were all great southern fried chicken fixers. Unfortunately, my husband himself never really learned. With two big brothers who could cook who took over the kitchen, why learn yourself, right?

The brothers did so well in the kitchen because their dear mother, Estella, who I never had the pleasure of even meeting, died in her late 50s of complications from crippling rheumatoid arthritis (and this was before modern treatments for RA). She, by all accounts, was an awesome cook and lovely woman. I wish I could have known her.

At any rate, I knew before I said “I do,” I would have to learn to fry good chicken. It was something they had almost every Sunday for dinner. So I mostly learned by watching my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and pumping them for hints.

They said to use a coating of flour, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and paprika and a little baking powder. Roll the chicken pieces in milk, dip in the coating mixture (or throw the mixture in a bag and shake until coated). They used cast iron skillets; my early attempts at seasoning a cast iron skillet and keeping it that way didn’t work out so well but maybe it’s time I try again.

So currently I cook mine in a stainless steel large skillet with a lid, in about a half inch of melted shortening. For many years while the children were home, I made fried chicken for most Sunday dinners since that was traditional at Stuart’s house. We’d have chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and sometimes cole slaw. Until we got home from church and I got all that cooked, it was often at least 1:30 until we ate. Now, I can’t believe I did that so often.

There are many other ways we like chicken; among them: barbecued, breast meat or tenders sautéed lightly in olive oil, baked in a coating of Italian dressing, cheesy chicken which I talked about here. But my husband feels the bones and juices of a cut up chicken add so much flavor to the finished product that if I want to treat him, I put on my best Paula Deen accent, my apron, and fry away.

I ran across this knock off recipe for KFC Chicken and thought it was worth a try. It was! A bit of work, but for a special dinner, it was fun to see how close it came to that traditional fastfood favorite. (But as cheap as rotisserie chicken is these days, usually a raw chicken from the meat aisle costs more than a fully cooked hen, rotisserie style. A way to get people in stores, of course, where we pick up other items.)


So, you can try the Davis method described above for a shortened recipe for the coating, or this:

KFC Chicken

1 chicken cut up
3 beaten eggs
4 Tablespoons oil – or more


2 cups flour
4 tsp. paprika
2 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. tarragon
½ tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. onion salt
½ tsp. celery salt*

Place flour and spices in a clean plastic or paper bag. Begin heating oil. Coat chicken with beaten eggs, then put pieces in bag with flour mix, one at a time. When oil is hot carefully put chicken pieces in fry pan. Brown slowly on medium heat on one side, uncovered. After about 15 minutes or when pieces or nicely browned, turn pieces over. Cover skillet and keep cooking on gentle/low heat another 30 minutes or more if the chicken was very large. Remove lid for last 5-7 minutes to make crispier chicken. Drain on plate covered with paper towel. Serves 4-6.

*Yes, that’s a lot of salt, all together. You can omit any of the last six spices without noticeable difference in the outcome.


Was there any traditional food your spouse loved that you learned to like or make?

What traditions did you have for Sunday dinner?


There are numerous places to find knock off KFC recipes online and they vary a great deal! Here are some I found and would like to experiment with; cooking methods vary from deep fat fryer to pressure cookers to cast iron skillet.


From → Family Life, Food, Recipes

  1. Cliff loves food of any kind, most recently the savory pork roast from the Fix-It and Forget-It cookbook. I also make an herbal chicken recipe from an Amish cookbook he likes, but give me rotisserie chicken any day. We have it for several meals, the last usually snippets tossed in a salad.

    (My eyes usually glaze over recipes with more than 6 ingredients.)

  2. I’ll check out that savory pork roast–I have one on hand and I have that Fix-It book too! Sorry to glaze over your eyes but thanks for your faithful comments!

  3. I married a Virginian named Stuart but very rarely have I fried chicken. 🙂 My mother used to do this kind of frying, and I loved the result. Cleaning up afterward was less fun. Most Pa Dutch restaurants have broasted chicken on the menu. When we eat out in one of those, I get my quota of crispy fried outside with juicy, tasty inside. Yum.

    • We enjoy the broasted chicken too. Interesting that we don’t have any Pa Dutch restaurants, really, here in the Valley.
      My own mother rarely fixed chicken at all, which is a little unusual since we lived on a chicken farm. She didn’t like butchering them (yay Mom) and we always had our own pork and beef in the freezer or in canning jars. Usually Mom and Dad had a local butcher/locker do the butchering and cutting up; we would package it. Lazy? Squeamish? I think Dad always had other priorities and decided to leave it to the professionals. 🙂

  4. Beverly Silver permalink

    Yum, Melodie. My mom, and I, used to fry chicken pretty well. We used an electric skillet that I still have! Only used flour and salt and pepper- and milk first. I remember cooking the chicken for 12-15 minute fairly high – for some reason 380 sticks in my mind, and then turn the pieces over and lower heat to 330-340 for another 10+ minutes. Drain (having fried in about 1/2 inch of oil!) Sounds similar. I agree with you about the rotisserie chicken these days! Thanks, Beverly

    • Beverly, I’m glad you’ve gotten the hang of how to leave comments here: your details are always amazing and fascinating! I used an electric skillet for awhile too, but now just use my stove, if I make it. Thanks for adding to the memories.

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