So first I start with a clean sink. I wipe it down with soapy water, and then I sprinkle generous amounts of salt (I am still using that pickling salt) into the sink and rub the sides and bottom with that. Why do I do that? Well, salt tends to kill germs, doesn't it? Plus it has a slightly abrasive quality, so if there's any residue still on the sides, it should help with that.
Then I open the two packages of "split chickens" into the sink. They are still a little frozen, but that should not be a problem. I sprinkle a good amount of salt over them, both sides -- this is for antiseptic purposes. (My mother used to do this.) Then I find a sharp knife, and begin cutting the chickens into fry-able pieces.
I imagine a lot of people find cutting up a chicken daunting, but it really isn't. I've seen tutorials online for how to do it with real finesse, but even without those skills, it's not that hard, especially when you have, as I did, two chickens already cut in half (and no giblets, boo!). What I do is find the joint between, and bend the pieces to "break" the bonds at the joint, and then work the knife in between the joints. If it's a sharp knife, it'll cut through everything nicely. A good knife should even cut the chicken bones fairly well, but there's no need for that, unless you have a whole chicken and you need to cut through the breast bone. Also, I cut away the backbone parts, with the tail, which I'll save for stock. My freezer has several bags of assorted items that will go into the next stock -- leftover vegetables, onion skins, chicken parts, etc.
With the breasts, I couldn't decide whether to cut them in half, or leave them more or less "whole." The smaller pieces cook faster, but it's so nice having a whole breast. So I decided to cut up two of them, and leave the other two alone.
When all the pieces were cut up the way I like them, I poured a quart of buttermilk over it all:
Followed by a generous amount of Franks Hot Sauce. All this I stirred up; using a bit of water to get the last of the buttermilky goodness out of the carton, and then I pushed the chicken pieces down into the milk mixture, so it can all marinate.
A lid on that, and into the fridge to marinate for several hours.
Oh, and in all that, I rescued a nice bit of chicken fat from one of the pieces; I'll throw that in with the lard (yes, lard! ask me why) when I heat that up to fry the chicken later.
After going to town to do some business and see a movie, and after offering Mass, I got back to the chicken yesterday around 6 pm.
The first step was to get the lard heating up. I had a good supply -- too much, really -- of bacon fat in the fridge, so I threw that in as well.
Then I mixed the dry ingredients: flour, paprika, spicy Montreal steak seasoning. Next time, I'll get some garlic powder; it's not something I keep on hand. I put all this in a ziplock bag, and then added the pieces straight from the buttermilk, and then after coating them, laid them out on a pan to dry a bit (this is just half the pieces; I prepared two whole chickens):
After they sat awhile, I decided it was time to start cooking. I cooked the chicken in batches, trying to put larger pieces in first, then smaller ones, so they would all finish about the same time. I didn't actually expect to cook them completely in the fat, but rather to give them a good, crispy coating, and then finish them in the oven.
Here is one batch, cooking away:
And here's the whole batch, ready for the oven:
So what's the verdict?
The chicken was very good; the crust was pretty good; but the batter needed much more seasoning. Next time, I will try either applying some Franks right before dipping in the dry ingredients, or adding much more seasoning to the dry mix, or both.
Except for the wings, the pieces were underdone; so I put the chicken back in for a bit.
There were three very large pieces -- all breast pieces -- that I kept in the longest. I found them this morning, after Mass, thoroughly cremated.
The rest is safely in the fridge, ready to be consumed at future meals.