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Large cast iron skillet
Enough bacon drippings and canola oil (equal parts) to be about 1 ˝ inches deep
Fryer parts of chicken, whatever pieces you fancy
Plain breadcrumbs
Dried thyme
Poultry seasoning
Pure garlic powder
Tarragon (fresh leaves if possible, chopped, otherwise dried will do)
S & P

Wash chicken pieces in cold water. If you use wings, cut off the tips to make it easier to handle them in the skillet. We prefer to cut up whole fryers because Jim likes the bony parts and I like the meaty ones. To serve four, add extra wings, breasts, legs or thighs, depending on light/dark meat preference. I figure at least around 3 pieces per person. Lay the pieces out on a clean countertop. Salt and pepper, using lots of good fresh-ground black pepper. Turn pieces and do the same to other sides. Allow to sit while you prepare oil and coating.

Fill skillet with mix of bacon drippings and canola oil and start to heat it slowly. Watch that it does not burn but gets good and hot. When chicken is prepped and ready to fry, test to see oil mix is hot enough by dropping a pinch of breadcrumbs in the grease. When it sizzles, you’re ready to go.

While oil is heating, blend herbs with breadcrumbs on a large dinner plate. I use generous amounts (maybe a tbls of each herb and a tsp of garlic powder). The main flavor should come from the tarragon. The paprika can be sprinkled in the heating oil as well as blended in the crumbs. It will help make the chicken a rich golden brown. The proportions of herbs is a matter of preference, so see if you like the taste of the tarragon most, or prefer thyme or poultry seasoning. Go lightest on the garlic as it can overpower all else. Once you have the crumbs blended with herbs, dredge each piece of chicken in it, coating evenly on all sides. Place pieces on a clean plate, keeping them separate so they don’t pull off coating from being pressed together.

Make sure the grease is returned to good heat, if you had to turn it down while coating chicken. If it isn’t hot enough, the crumbs will absorb the grease and become soggy. Place larger pieces, halves or quarters of breast and thighs, in first. Save smaller pieces like drumsticks and wings for the last batch as they will take less cooking. Keep heat medium high at first until bottom of first batch turns brown. Then turn over and reduce heat to medium. Cover skillet loosely with a lid so the meat can tenderize while it browns.

You have to play with arranging the pieces and turning them to keep cooking even. I turn the skillet round and round on the flame as I work. When the first batch of larger pieces is done (about 20 minutes), remove with fork and place in a dish lined with about four thicknesses of paper towels. Raise heat to high again, then put in smaller pieces. They’ll take a bit less time.

Test all pieces for doneness by sticking a fork in. If it comes out easily, they’re done. For a picnic, prepare chicken the day ahead and refrigerate overnight. The flavors are incredibly rich by the second day.





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