“Equal parts love and patience thinks me for fried chicken and marriage,” tweeted my friend @gregwdickinson (Greg Dickinson) this afternoon.
Feeling rosy about the Supreme Court decision today that sanctioned love, I say Greg’s right, but I’ll add brown paper bags, a cast iron pot, commitment, and time spent in hot oil are requirements, too. And baking soda to put out the fires.
There’s something about both fried chicken and marriage, the uncomplicated gestures – ok, dull – required of each, repeated over and over again, that add up to something with potential to reshape the soul.
I recently met a couple who have a regular summer marriage tradition of getting fried chicken-take-out, a bottle of good wine, and heading to the beach for the sunset. They don’t get goat cheese and fig sandwiches, or pesto pasta salad; they get fried chicken. There’s something about that.
A glance down my facebook page at all the love that takes nothing for granted, including the law, has me smiling the rare kind of smile that stays. I’ve just felt happy all afternoon. Not only that, we’re having cold fried chicken for dinner.
Here’s my recipe, adapted from My Family Table by John Besh. I recently prepared this using Einkhorn flour, an ancient version of wheat flour, available from Jovial Foods. It was delicious – crispier and a beautiful mahogany color, but unbleached wheat flour is fine.
Equality Fried Chicken
serves 6 – 8
1 free-range, organic chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart buttermilk
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sweet paprika
Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, soak the chicken in the buttermilk for at least 15 minutes. The idea is that the lactic acids tenderize the chicken. Sometimes my grandmother would even put the soaking chicken in the fridge overnight.
Mix the flour, salt, and pepper together and spread on a plate. Dredge each chicken piece in the seasoned flour to coat well.
Heat about 1 inch of canola oil in a cast iron pan until it reads 350˚ on a candy thermometer. In small batches, place a few pieces of the chicken in the oil at a time and fry for 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, turn each piece over, then cover the pan to cook for an additional 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and salt well.