Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Cast Iron - How Our Humble Medium Had A Hand In Shaping The United States
We know we might be a little biased, but we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, especially coming out of the historic month of July that holds our great nation’s Independence Day: the cast-iron skillet should be on the American flag.
That’s right—a cast iron. And that’s because the age-old medium played a vital role in the very creation of this nation.
Mississippi chef John Currence shares the cast iron key to a summer fish fry.
Before John Currence became a James Beard Award winning chef for his growing empire of restaurants in Oxford, Mississippi, his first real exposure to the state's unofficial seafood, catfish, was actually across the southern border, in his native Louisiana.
“We grew up riding out to a little place outside of New Orleans called Middendorf’s that’s now been around for almost 90 years,” says Currence. “It’s literally in the middle of a swamp on the side of Interstate 55. When I was a kid, it had a little defunct gas station next door where inside they kept alligators and turtles and all this stuff we’d go and look at while trains were coming and going on a track that ran from New Orleans to Memphis right behind the restaurant. That’s where we’d go and eat catfish and coleslaw and green onions and hush puppies. It was an absolute delight.”
Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Recipe courtesy of Chef John Currence -- from an upcoming third cookbook; Photo Courtesy of Ed Anderson
The key to making this recipe, which is excellent fried chicken, is keeping the oil at temperature and not overloading the pan. If you’re worried about making a mess in your kitchen, move along. Bottom line is: you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet. If you love fried chicken, no mess is enough to keep you from cooking…
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 quart FULL FAT buttermilk
1/2 cup Texas Pete hot sauce
3 teaspoons cayenne
3 teaspoons salt
3 cups White Lilly all-purpose flour
1 cup Wondra
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 tablespoons lard
Vegetable oil for frying
- Wash chicken thoroughly and trim any excess skin from the thighs. Pat chicken dry and place on a cookie sheet, skin side up in the refrigerator. In the meantime, combine buttermilk, hot sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper in a bowl and blend fully.
- Once chicken has finished in the refrigerator, place in buttermilk mix and chill overnight (or at least 2 hours). In a large freezer bag or brown paper grocery bag, combine flours, remaining salt, remaining cayenne, onion power and garlic powder and combine well.
- Heat lard and enough oil to go half way up the side of a 12-inch cast iron skillet to 350º. Pull chicken from buttermilk and allow to drain well. Working 2 thighs at a time, dust chicken in flour and set aside.
- Fry 4 thighs at a time only, turning every 5 minuets until chicken is golden brown and at an internal temperature of 155º.
- Drain on a cooling rack and eat immediately or later on in the evening after you have stayed out too late and not eaten enough...