Barbara Willis chooses small whole chickens, each as close to 3 pounds as possible, and cuts them into pieces at home. The smaller pieces cook more evenly in the 12-inch cast iron skillet she uses. Because of temperature differences in stovetops, the overall cooking time can vary from 12 minutes for a very hot stove to nearly 20 minutes, as on Barbara’s stove. She prefers liquid Crisco or Wesson oil and saves a bit of the fat for the next time to aid in browning.
|About 4 cups vegetable oil (for frying)|
|2||whole chickens (3 pounds each), each cut into 8 pieces|
|2||teaspoons black pepper|
1. Set the oven at 200 degrees. Have on hand a deep, cast iron skillet, plenty of paper towels, a brown paper bag, tongs, and a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Fill the skillet half full with oil. Heat over high heat until a drop of water produces a quick sizzle.
3. Rinse chicken pieces and place on paper towel. The chicken should remain damp.
4. In the paper bag, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.
5. Add the chicken pieces to the bag a few at a time, and shake to coat lightly. Place chicken pieces on a platter.
6. When the oil is heated, add breast and thigh pieces skin side down. Do not crowd the pan. Fry for 5 to 8 minutes, or until medium brown; the chicken will be making a loud sizzle. If the skillet becomes too full, use a ladle to remove excess oil. Turn the pieces and cook
5 to 8 minutes more. Turn again and cook 1 to 3 minutes, or until golden.
7. Use tongs to set the pieces on paper towels. Transfer to the baking sheet and set in the oven to keep warm. Fry the remaining breasts and thighs in the same way. Fry the wings and drumsticks skin side down for 5 to 7 minutes, or until medium brown. Turn and fry 5 to 7 minutes more. Turn again and cook for 1 to 3 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels.
Adapted from Barbara Willis