Simple. Basic. Yet somehow so richly flavoured and tantalizing. When this chicken is doing its thing in the oven, everyone who enters the kitchen smiles eagerly, sniffing and asking Mmmmm. . . what’s for dinner?
It is the kind of comforting, home-cooked way to make fried chicken that never goes out of style.
My mother-in-law (affectionately called Granny by everyone) has made this chicken for the 60-plus years she’s lived in the farmhouse on the family farm in northern Alberta.
Raymond’s dad, who, at 94-years-young, is one of the dwindling number of Canadian World War II veterans alive to tell his amazing stories, rates this chicken as one of his favourite dishes.
My kids rave about it – it’s their favourite meal that Granny makes, too.
I think it has stood the test of time.
Farmhouse Fried Chicken
- One 3 to 4 lb (1.4-1.8kg) chicken, cut up, or a mixture of pre-cut chicken pieces
- ½ cup (70gms) flour, or your favourite gluten-free blend, or cornstarch (I like to use a blend of equal parts millet flour, sweet rice flour, and potato or corn starch)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning or ground sage
- 2 to 3 tablespoons oil
- ¾ to 1 cup water
Optional (but only if you want to be extra fancy): 1 or 2 bay leaves, use white wine instead of water
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut the chicken into serving sized pieces (see how to cut up a chicken here), if using.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil.
Dip the chicken pieces into the seasoned flour, turning them to coat all sides and get the flour into all the crevices. Shake off the excess.
Fry the floured chicken pieces in the oil, skin side up first, until golden brown on both sides. You may need to fry them in two batches, adding the remaining tablespoon of oil for the second batch. If you have a splatter screen to put over the skillet while frying, it will help reduce the mess on your stovetop from the fine splatters of oil.
Remove the browned chicken pieces to a casserole dish, dutch oven, or small roasting pan with a lid. Or use a baking dish, and cover it with foil while in the oven. Ideally the roasting dish will be large enough to hold the chicken pieces in one layer if they are snugged up against each other.
*If your chicken was excessively fatty, and a lot more fat has collected than you started with, tilt the skillet and spoon out several tablespoons of the excess fat, leaving only about 2 tablespoons in the skillet with the drippings.
Pour ¾ cup of water into the skillet, and stir to deglaze it and loosen up all the flavourful bits stuck to the bottom. Pour the water with the pan drippings into the casserole dish around the chicken. If using bay leaves, tuck them into the liquid so they are fully submerged. Add a bit more water if needed to bring the liquid up to ¼ inch (.5cm) deep.
Cover and bake for 1 hour. If you have time, you can bake it for up to two hours, adding a bit more water halfway through if it’s getting dry (but it is tender and flavourful after one hour, the extra time just adds a slight edge of even more tenderness.)
*Variation: Mabel’s Mushroom Fried Farmhouse Chicken – 2 cans sliced mushrooms with their liquid. Instead of the water, drain the liquid from the tinned mushrooms and use it to deglaze the pan. Scatter the mushrooms over the chicken, pour in the deglazed mushroom liquid, and bake as for the regular Farmhouse Chicken, above.
Or use 1 lb (450gms) fresh mushrooms, sliced. Place half of them into the roasting pan before you put in the chicken pieces, and sprinkle the other half on top of the chicken pieces. Use water to deglaze the pan, as in the recipe above.
Serves 4 to 5.
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