I was born in Brooklyn, New York (this makes me a “Yankee”) but spent my formidable years in the south (Georgia and coastal Carolina).
During my southern tenure – I picked up a few souvenirs – specifically: a lingering accent and the ability to say “y’all” like a native; a love for Friday night football and (don’t judge me) country music; and most importantly – a sacred appreciation for fried chicken.
Oh chicken. Why would anyone want you any other way than fried? There is nothing more mouth watering than slightly spicy, skillet fried, crispy chicken. One of the best presents I ever received was a skillet and a jar of overpriced pork fat from Moveable Feast to fry chicken in. ::Sigh::
The best fried chicken I ever had was at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. It was served out of the back of a woman’s pickup truck. She shook it up in a brown paper bag filled with flour and spices, dipped it in buttermilk, and fried it up right there. Amazing.
I’ve experimented with a number of recipes over the years in my quest to replicate the Stone Mountain fried chicken. The one below is a hodgepodge of a few different recipes (taking the best component of each) that – together – most closely resemble that Holy Grail of fried chicken deliciousness I bit into over 25 years ago during a school field trip to Stone Mountain.
For you first timers – be patient with yourself as you learn to fry chicken. It really is an art form and it takes time to develop your skill. Plus, unlike other recipes, frying chicken requires a lot of attention. You must tend to the chicken and methodically flip it so it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn. The more you do it – the better you’ll get at it.
Cooking Tip: If you want to fry chicken, you need to get yourself a skillet. Being “country” is super trendy these days so you can purchase skillets at a wide variety of fine retailers. The best part? A good skillet doesn’t need to set you back a million dollars. The Lodge Large Cast Iron Skillet (13.25) is available at Crate & Barrel, does a great job and won’t break the bank at only $59.95. You are also going to want to invest in a good pair of tongs and a baking tray.
KEEP IT LOCAL
My family believes in supporting local businesses. If you live in the Chicagoland area – you can purchase everything you need to make Stone Mountain Fried Chicken at the retailers below. If you are visiting this site from a different part of the globe – I encourage you to seek out your own local providers. Supporting small businesses helps the local economy and preserves the cultural fabric of American life.
- Ream’s Meat Market – Elburn, Illinois (Chicken)
- Blue Goose Grocery – Saint Charles, Illinois (Buttermilk, Eggs & Flour)
- 360 Flavor & Spice – Geneva, Illinois (Fresh Spices)
- Moveable Feast – Geneva, Illinois (Epic Pastured Pork Fat)
- 8 Pieces of Chicken with Skin Intact
- 2 Cups All Purpose Flour (My Favorite is King Arthur Flour brand)
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt + 1/2 Tablespoon for Flour Mixture
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Ground Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon of Cayenne
- 1 Teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
- 2 Cups of Fresh Buttermilk
- 2 Farm Fresh Eggs
- Pork Fat for Frying
- Sturdy Freezer Bags
- Paper Towels
- Aluminum Foil
Remove raw chicken from packaging and pat dry with paper towels. Put all of the spices together in a freezer bag and shake until mixed. Put the chicken into the freezer bag and shake until all of the pieces are evenly covered with the spices. Place in refrigerator for a minimum of three hours or (even better) overnight.
Remove chicken from refrigerator and let rest until chicken is room temperature. Mix flour and remaining 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk and eggs together to form a “buttermilk bath.”
Take a piece of chicken and dunk it in the buttermilk bath. Shaking off the excess liquid, roll the chicken in the flour mixture. Shake off all residual flour until your chicken looks lightly dusted (flour coating should be thin – not thick). Work in pieces until all of the chicken is bathed, floured and ready to go.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Fire up your skillet over medium heat. Put a generous amount of pork fat into the skillet. There should be enough fat in the pan so that the chicken has a nice bubbling pool of melted fat to cook in. Here is where the “art form” comes in. Let the fat melt until it is shiny and piping hot – but not smoking. When the chicken hits the pan – it should make a crackling – not a hissing sound. You don’t want your pan too hot – but not too cool either. The more chicken you fry – the better you will get at spotting when your fat is ready for the chicken.
Some folks will try to get you to use a temperature gauge in the skillet to measure the heat of your oil. Don’t do it! Frying chicken is about simple pleasure and loving attention to a gorgeous piece of fried bird. Don’t mess it up with fancy gadgets. (A real southerner would insert a comment here about “Damn Yankees” and “Fancy knick-knacks ruining a good thing.”)
Once the fat is shiny and bubbling – place a few pieces of chicken into the grease. Make sure the pieces have plenty of room from each other. Never overcrowd the skillet. Attentively watch your chicken and rotate. And rotate. And rotate. And rotate until the skin is crackling and a crunchy golden crust forms all over the skin of the bird. Once the skin is “finger lickin’ good” looking – remove the chicken from the skillet and place onto paper towels to absorb the excess grease. Continue working in this manner until all pieces are done.
After all of the chicken has its excess fat absorbed – places all 8 pieces on a baking tray lined with tin foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Let rest for another 15 – and then hollar for your kin: “Chicken’s on the table y’all!” and watch ’em come a runnin’.
Side Kick Recipe: Butter Drop Biscuit
- 2 Cups Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 3/4 Cups Heavy Cream
- Irish Butter – Softened
- Farm Fresh Honey
Pre-heat oven to 350 Degrees. Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Mix in heavy cream until mixture is thick – but too thick – and doughy. Add more cream as necessary. Using a large spoon – scoop even amounts of the biscuit dough onto a baking tray lined with chef’s parchment paper. Bake until golden brown (about 15 minutes). Remove from oven and serve piping hot with softened butter and drizzle with honey.
HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS RECIPE?
I love hearing from “y’all.” If you have questions about how to execute the perfect fried chicken – or want additional tips and tricks – use the contact form to message me below. I promise to get back to you lickity split.