Years ago my dear southern cook extraordinaire mother-in-law, Mary Alice, typed out all her favorite recipes and assembled cookbooks for her family and dearest friends. She was a southern lady in the truest sense and had hostess skills on par with her cooking acumen. Her grandchildren lovingly called her, “Mama Sugar,” because she called everyone she loved, “Sugar,” and said it as she said everything else, in her lovely, distinctive Chattanooga, Tennessee dialect which she never lost despite living most of her adult life elsewhere.
When my husband and sons request fried chicken there is only one place I go for the recipe. Mama Sugar’s cookbook. She recorded several versions, but this is her classic which she soaked in buttermilk all day.
Mama Sugar’s Southern Fried Chicken
- Cut spring fryer (about 3 pounds) into serving pieces
- Cover with buttermilk and refrigerate for several hours to tenderize
- Drain and dredge in mixture of flour, salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic salt
- Fry in Crisco shortening until brown on both sides
- Move to covered baking dish OR, for crispy-style, place on a cookie sheet
- Bake at 350°F degrees until tender (45-60 min.)
My guys like the crispy style for the crunch, in which case I go a little heavier on the salt for a salty-crunchy combo. However, those who love their meat particularly moist and tender may want to try the covered version. The frying and the lid both lock in moisture -just don’t over bake. Rule of thumb for doneness is 160°F white meat/165°F dark meat. Mary Alice usually baked her fried chicken covered. I love it both ways and let my mood or my guys dictate which way we go.
Food for Thought
“In the childhood memories of every good cook, there’s a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot, and a mom.”
Barbara Costikyan, Food Critic, New York Magazine