Cazembe Jacksonian Fried Chicken

This is essentially my own recipe for Fried Chicken with some tips that we got from Cazembe Jackson on how to do it right. We're leaving a bit of wiggle room for you to decide which seasonings you prefer. Personally, I'm partial to a little cayenne and going heavy on the garlic powder, but what's important is that the meat and flour are seasoned well. Don't be afraid to go in on the spices. (My rule for seasoning on meat is that you almost can't have too much.)

Let's get to it.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Pounds of Chicken (can be a mix of drumsticks, thighs, wings, and breasts)
  • Vegetable OR Peanut Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Water
  • 2-3 Cups of Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Seasonings (All applied to suit your taste):

  • Salt OR Season Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Parsley Flakes for the flour (To make it cute) 

Optional Seasoning:

  • Try some Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Lemon Pepper, Dry Jerk Seasoning, or any premixed spices you like. Mix and match. Feel free to experiment. Fried chicken has an endless number of possibilities.

Steps:

Before you begin, make sure the chicken has thoroughly thawed under refrigeration. This is especially important because the bones already slow the cooking process and frozen bones in thawed meat will make the chicken cook unevenly.
  1. Fill a frying skillet (preferably cast iron) about halfway with the cooking oil and heat over medium high heat. If the oil starts to smoke, immediately reduce the temperature. The ideal temperature is 375 degrees.
  2. Rinse your chicken thoroughly and pat each piece dry.
  3. Season the chicken, starting with the salt, making sure to evenly coat the chicken on all sides and gently rub in the spices. Remember, a little salt goes a long way.
  4. In a large bowl mix the flour, pepper, garlic powder, and any other spices used on the meat. Be generous with the amounts here. You can be bolder with the flavors you really want to stand out. If you love garlic, double up. You want heat? Make sure you see that cayenne. Toss in a few pinches of parsley flakes for a subtle flavor addition and a nice visual flare.
  5. Whisk the eggs and water together in a medium sized bowl.
  6. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg wash, coating thoroughly and allowing the excess to drip off.
  7. Coat the pieces in the flour and seasoning mixture.--A fun and efficient way to do this is to put the flour in a large zip lock bag, drop the chicken pieces in, seal the bag with room for air, and shake it until the chicken is evenly covered.)
  8. Now carefully place the pieces one at a time in the hot oil. If you have a frying basket, even better. Be sure to not crowd the skillet and do small batches, generally 2-3 pieces at a time can fit comfortably in a standard cast iron pan.
  9. Allow each piece to cook for 7-10 minutes on one side. Turn each piece over and let it fry for another 7-10 minutes. Thicker pieces may need a full 10 minutes on each side, while smaller pieces will cook well right at 7 minutes per side. Do NOT think it has cooked thoroughly just because the outside is golden brown. Trust giving the chicken time to cook and not just how it looks.
  10. Between batches, give the oil a couple of minutes to regain its ideal temperature. Each batch will lower the temperature and can slow the cooking of the next round of chicken.
  11. Repeat steps 8-10 until all the chicken is cooked and enjoy!

Them's the basics of frying chicken. Maybe in the future we'll get some recipes for hot wings, buttermilk chicken, deep frying, or even some baked or vegetarian alternatives! We'll see. In the meantime, you can check out Episode 2: Fried Chicken with Cazembe Jackson to hear the conversation this ubiquitous Southern delicacy sparked.

 

 

 

Marcus Ellsworth