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EAST TEXAS FRIED CHICKEN
After sampling hundreds of fried chicken recipes all over Texas, the authors or Te4xas Cooking feel nothing tops this one. It's from Lula Mae Austin, a Dallas cook, and James Villas, author of "The American Taste".
Serves: 6

3 - 4 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
3 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
4 pounds chicken parts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups shortening, preferably Crisco
3 tablespoons bacon drippings

Between 3-12 hours before eating, combine buttermilk, Tabasco, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken, turning to coat well; cover and refrigerate.

Bring chicken to room temperature about 20 minutes. Put flour and remaining salt and pepper into a medium-size paper bag. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt shortening over high heat. Add bacon drippings to the skillet. When small bubbles form on the surface, reduce heat slightly.

Starting with dark pieces, remove one at a time from marinade, shake off excess liquid, drop into the paper bag, and shake well so that the piece is coated thoroughly. Remove from bag and lower gently into the skillet, skin side down. Repeat until all chicken is in the skillet, arranging so that all the pieces cook evenly (they should fit snugly but not stick to each other).

Reduce heat to medium and cover the skillet. Fry the chicken exactly 17 minutes. Reduce heat slightly, remove cover from skillet, turn chicken gently with tongs, and fry uncovered exactly 17 minutes.

Remove chicken with tongs and drain on the paper bag---it will be a deep, rich brown. Serve hot with Prime-Time Mashed Potatoes and Classic Cream Gravy (see below) made with the pan drippings.

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Copyright 2001 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved