Monday, February 16, 2009

Cajun Fried Chicken (Simone)

This recipe is from my niece Simone, who learned it from her now ex-fiance, who came from Louisiana. After they had broken up, a friend of Simone's came over to comfort her. As Simone sat there bawling her eyes out, her friend inquired timidly as to whether Simone had gotten her ex's fried chicken recipe. Between sobs, Simone emitted a pitiful, "Yes!" With a sigh of relief, her friend patted Simone on the shoulder and assured her, "You're gonna be alright, Honey!" And she was right. (After the ingredients list, I'll copy Simone's sage advice and directions verbatim.)

1 cp flour
Tony Chachere's Creaole Seasoning (a few teaspoons)
  • a few teaspoons of salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • and enough crushed pepper that you can easily see it in the mix
yellow prepared mustard
at least 1 T cayenne pepper

Buy the cheapest chicken parts you can get. I usually use thighs--I think they're tastier and I'm not a big fan of chicken breast. Too dry and too expensive. Plus, thighs are often on sale for well less than $1/lb. [I, personally, am a big fan of chicken breasts!]

Begin heating heating oil in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Use an oil that can handle higher temperatures (not olive). I was taught to make this chicken being told that only liquid Crisco was acceptable. In the past I used to reuse the oil, but it could really only be used twice. And now I deep fry so rarely that I just toss the oil out after it's cooled off.

Prepare a mixing bowl with 1 cup of flour mixed with 1 tsp of cayenne pepper, salt and crushed pepper. You can avoid the latter [the spices] by just tossing in some Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. It's a hot, spicy, seasoned salt made in Opelousas, LA.

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Leave the skin on, as it keeps the meat moist. You can pick it off later. (Ha!) Place the chicken pieces in a large mixing bowl (such as your sink). Pour over enough yellow prepared mustard to thoroughly coat. Then dump in more cayenne pepper than seems healthy (like a tablespoon--yes, TABLESPOON) for six pieces of chicken. For whatever reason, when you fry this up, the cayenne pepper really melts into the background. Just mix this mess up with your hands.

Make sure the oil is hot enough by dropping in a piece of sandwich bread. If it begins to sizzle rapidly, it's ready. It if turns to cinders immediately, it might be a tad too hot.

Dip the chicken pieces in flour, enough to thoroughly coat. Then carefully place into oil. Allow to fry on each side until light brown and crispy. 8-10 minutes per side (for a thigh) should be about right. [My sister-in-law says you can tell the chicken is done by pressing on it with your finger. If it is firm, it is done. She says not to pierce it to see because then you let the juices escape. She also recommended putting the mustard, cayenne and chicken in a sealable plastic bag and letting it marinate for an hour or so.]