Juanita Dean's Southern Fried Chicken
JBF Member, NYC
While Manhattan-based JBF Associate member Dr. Nathan Goldstein was growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, Juanita Dean’s fried chicken was one of his family’s favorite snacks. Dean learned the “recipe” from her mother, who probably learned it from her mother. "Recipe" is in quotation marks because, of course, nothing was ever measured. What follows has been measured, tested, and approved by Dr. Goldstein as being almost as good as the original.
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- One 4 to 5-pound frying chicken, backbone removed, cut into 10 pieces (separate drumstick from thigh and cut the breasts in half), or an equal amount of chicken parts
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
In a large bowl or container, dissolve the kosher salt in 1 cup warm water. Add 3 cups ice water to dilute, and submerge the chicken pieces in this brine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours. Drain well, lay the chicken pieces out on several layers of paper towel, and pat dry.
In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet, heat about 3/4 of an inch of oil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a large zip-top bag combine the flour, paprika, and black pepper. Generously season the chicken pieces on both sides with the Lawry’s salt. Add half the chicken pieces to the bag and toss well to coat with the flour mixture.
Lift the chicken pieces out of the bag, tapping them to remove any excess flour, and place them skin and meat side down in the hot oil. Fry for 3 or 4 minutes until the skin begins to lightly brown. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium, and continue frying 8 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is deep golden brown. Turn over the chicken and fry another 8 to 10 minutes, until the second side is brown. Use an instant-read thermometer to test the internal temperature of the thickest pieces of meat (usually the breast or the thigh near the bone). The thermometer should read at least 160°F.
When chicken is done, place it on a brown paper bag or paper towels to drain, and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Add more oil to the pan if necessary, bring back to temperature, and repeat with the remaining chicken.
Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.