Maryland Panfried Chicken

Maryland Panfried Chicken

Chesapeake Bay CookingYou'll have no trouble getting people to the table with this one. In fact, it'll take a lot of shooing to keep them out of the kitchen while you're frying. This world-famous dish puts the Colonel to shame. When you put the chicken pieces in the bag, it's your basic "shake and bake" technique--but you don't bake. You brown the chicken in very hot oil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to steam the chicken; this keeps the meat moist while producing a crisp coating. I serve my panfried chicken with buttery mashed potatoes, and country greens.

1 frying chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut into serving pieces

1 quart buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Chesapeake seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons Chesapeake seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon powdered thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Vegetable oil (and lard, optional, 3 parts oil to 1 part lard), for frying Cream Gravy (recipe follows), for accompaniment

Place the chicken pieces in a shallow dish. To prepare the marinade, pour the buttermilk in a bowl and add the Chesapeake seasoning, cracked black pepper, Tabasco, garlic, and lemon juice. Mix well and pour the mixture over the chicken to cover. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight. For the coating, put the flour in a bowl and add the salt, Chesapeake seasoning, ground black pepper, sage, thyme, and cayenne. Mix together well and transfer to a strong paper bag or large, heavy-duty plastic bag. When ready to fry, remove the chicken from the buttermilk and wipe off the excess. Place the chicken in the bag of seasoned flour and shake to coat well.

Pour vegetable oil into a large cast-iron skillet to a depth of about 1 1/4 inches. Heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, turning frequently. Do not crowd the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the skillet. Cook the chicken, turning occasionally, for about 25 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted utensil to paper towels to drain. Reserve the cooking fat. Serve with Cream Gravy on the side.

Cream Gravy

Makes about 2 cups

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the cooking fat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Stir constantly until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Excerpted from CHESAPEAKE BAY COOKING by John Shields Copyright© 1998 by John Shields. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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