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Edna's Fried Chicken

The reason I got a huge Lodge Chicken Fryer was to make Edna Lewis’s famous chicken recipe. It was over a year later that I actually got around to making it. The fryer didn’t gather dust. I fried a lot of chicken in it, I just never had the time for the elaborate preparations Edna’s recipe requires.

In that recipe, which was made famous by chef Scott Peacock, the cut up chicken gets 12 hours of brining followed by 12 hours of buttermilk marinating before you proceed with the seasoning and flouring. Then you hold the floured pieces of chicken on a rack for half an hour to get the crust to stick and finally you fry the chicken in a large cast iron skillet full of lard jazzed up with butter and country ham.

My wife got really tired of that raw chicken sloshing around in our refrigerator for two days. She was happy to help eat the chicken though. To tell the truth, I faithfully executed the marinating and flouring, but I substituted peanut oil for the lard. So I guess I still haven’t really made Edna Lewis’s fried chicken.

I want to say the flavor and the juiciness of the resulting chicken was worth the effort. It was awfully good. But the next time I make fried chicken, I am much more likely to use a quick recipe like the spicy Cajun fried chicken recipe below. I’ll save Edna Lewis’s famous fried chicken recipe for very special events.

Spicy Fried Chicken

This recipe is simple, but the technique is tricky. If you try to fry chicken in too small a volume of oil, the temperature won’t recover fast enough and the chicken will get greasy. Count on using several quarts of oil or lard.
Purists swear that chicken fried in a cast iron skillet tastes best. If you want to go this route, I recommend the 5-quart size Lodge Chicken Fryer–it will accommodate an entire cut-up chicken and plenty of frying oil and will set you back a mere $39. Don’t forget to use the lid–it makes a big difference.

Serves 4 to 6.

Peanut oil or fresh rendered lard
1 large chicken cut into pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Slap Yo’ Mama seasoning (or other Cajun seasoning blend)

Season the chicken by sprinkling it with seasoning blend. Add the rest of the seasoning (at least half a cup) to the flour and stir well to combine. Dip the chicken in the flour and roll to coat. Shake off the excess flour and allow the chicken to sit on a wire rack for half an hour. (This helps the crust to adhere to the chicken.) Heat the oil, 3 inches deep, in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven to 350°F. Carefully slip the chicken pieces into the hot oil and cover. The temperature of the oil will fall, but try to keep it at 325° F for around 15 minutes or until the chicken is done to your liking. Serve immediately or hold in a hot oven.

5 comments to Edna's Fried Chicken

  • I can’t wait to make this. I love fried chicken, the more elaborate the better!

  • john t

    I have flunked on many attempts over many years with fried chicken. The only time I was happy and passed was shortly after she passed away a few years ago, I bought one of her books and found that recipe. I have several of her books now but not her first. The key to the recipe is rendering the lard and more importantly reading her stories and thinking about the short sips of whiskey the family had together during special occasion mornings. She can tell a great story. Reminds me of you.

    JT

  • George

    Your link for the 5 quart chicken fryer was for a 3 quart one. Which one is right?

  • robbwalsh

    The 3 quart will work, but the 5 quart works even better–if you can afford that much lard!

  • I got hooked on Edna Lewis’ chicken as served at Scott Peacock’s first restaurant in Atlanta nearly 20 years ago. Moved home to Texas 11 years ago and followed their recipe closely to get to keep eating that wonderful stuff. And then I had the bright idea that we’d make Edna Lewis’ chicken (complete with lard we render ourselves) for a community lunch for 150 people. In July. In the Texas Hill Country. Pure insanity. But oh, it was so, so good. Worth all the work, the burns from hot lard and the incredible mess to clean up.