Southern Pan-Fried Chicken


This recipe for Southern pan-fried chicken is from "The Gift of Southern Cooking" by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.


  • ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt

  • 1 chicken (3 pounds), cut into 8 pieces

  • 1 quart buttermilk

  • 2 pounds lard

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

  • ½ cup country-ham pieces, or 1 thick slice country ham cut into ½-inch strips

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, mix together 1 gallon of water and 1 cup salt; stir until salt is dissolved. Add chicken pieces and let stand, refrigerated, 8 to 12 hours.

  2. Drain chicken and rinse out bowl. Return chicken to bowl and pour over buttermilk. Cover bowl and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours. Drain chicken on a wire rack set over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, discarding buttermilk.

  3. Meanwhile, place the lard, butter, and country ham into a large heavy skillet. Cook over low heat, skimming as needed, until butter has stopped foaming and country ham is browned, 30 to 45 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove ham and discard. Increase heat to medium-high and heat fat until it reaches 335 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.

  4. In a shallow bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Gently squeeze chicken to remove any excess buttermilk. Dredge chicken pieces thoroughly in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.

  5. Working in batches, gently place chicken pieces in the heated fat. Cook until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack set over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or crumpled paper towels. Serve fried chicken hot, warm, room temperature, or cold.

    Scott Peacock Chicken
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