Remember my sort-of once-a-month cooking? I sliced up some chicken breasts to make fried chicken strips, and man were they good!
I like to use a cast-iron skillet for a deep-fried food. It heats slowly, but holds the heat, which is important. A note about cast-iron: it likes lots of oil; otherwise it will start to rust. Back in the day, when people fried everything, their skillets kept a shiny black “seasoning” on them, and they were just about non-stick and would rinse clean. Nowdays, I’m more likely to sauté than fry, so I usually wipe it down with oil after each use. And don’t wash it with soap unless it really needs it. Just wipe it clean if that works- then try just water and a cloth- and as a last resort, use soap. ALWAYS dry immediately and completely, and wipe with oil if it’s not shiny black.
Before- see the dull spots? After I wiped with oil
So- on to the chicken.
1. Pour about 1/2 an inch of oil in your skillet. Turn heat to medium high. Use a thermometer because you know you’ll think it’s ready before it is! It needs to reach at least 360.
2. (You can do this step ahead of time.) Slice boneless, skinless chicken breasts in 1″ strips. Season to taste and cover with buttermilk. (I put them in a ziplock when I do it ahead- the strips were wonderfully tender and I don’t know if it was because they soaked in buttermilk a day, or if I just did a good job!)
3. Using a fork or tongs, unless you want a big mess on your fingers, lift each strip and let the excess buttermilk drip off- then roll them in flour till they’re covered.
4. Check your oil temperature.
4.a. Wait till it’s 360.
4.b. Wait till it’s 360. It will take a long time, especially using cast-iron!
5. When the oil reaches 360, CAREFULLY place the strips in the pan.Leave some room between the pieces; It’s better to do 2 batches than crowd them.
6. Watch it carefully- you can’t multi-task when deep-frying! Give it about 3-5 minutes, till it’s the color you like. I don’t like mine terribly crunchy.
7. Turn them over. Tongs are better than a fork.
8. Drain them on paper towels, and cover them with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to keep them hot while you make….
1. Pour off all but a couple of tablespoons of the oil. (Think ahead for this- an old veggie can is good, or a glass cup. Don’t pour it in your trash because it’ll melt straight through!) (PS You ladies who are “of a certain age” like me, did you keep a can of oil on your stove to reuse when you fried things? Seems like I fried every night!)
2. Add about the same amount of flour and stir, stir, stir! This is tricky to get the right consistency. It needs to stay separated when you scrape the bottom, but begin to puddle back.
3. Add salt and pepper, and keep stirring. Let it cook 2-3 minutes and begin to brown. The little bits of flour left in from the chicken will get lovely crunchy brown. Let it get darker if you want brown gravy.
4. Add a little milk (or cream, or broth, depending on what you want) and stir, stir, stir!
Add some more till it’s the consistency you like.
Get it to the table fast! This gravy is excellent over mashed potatoes, the chicken, rice, toast, or even plain bread! Good gravy takes practice, so don’t give up it it’s too thick or too runny.