Southern Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy

Originally published on November 23, 2011

I got this book from the “American Cooking” volume of the Time Life Classics series, a delicious encyclopedia resource covering cuisine from all different regions of the world – France, Germany, Italy, and yes, America. My mother-in-law gave me the books just a few weeks ago, and I’ve just been feeding my culinary passion every second I get to sit down and look at them.

The series is especially cool because for each region, there’s a large 200-page or so hardback book explaining the different dishes, the influences on the region, and the traditions and culture of the people as they relate to food. To go along with each of these in-depth looks at the different areas around the globe, there is a little pullout recipe book so you can then cook all the delicious delicacies that you just read about. What can I say? Actual recipes and an entire wealth of food knowledge, all at my fingertips? My MIL is a fellow foodie at heart and is one of the few people I’ve met that loves food just as much as I do. Only a true chef at heart could know just how great these books are, and I’m so thankful that my mother-in-law thought to give them to me.

In this particular book, the author talks about how he took his wife to the South once and she had never had authentic fried chicken before (poor thing!) After she devoured all of it, and then sucked whatever she could off the bones, he had to explain to her that that particular fried chicken had been made the correct way – the way outlined in this recipe. He then goes on to say that every cook in the South has a different way of preparing fried chicken – they batter it in beer, they batter it in flour, they dust it in flour, or they dust it in different seasonings, or they don’t dust it in anything at all. Every way is different, and you can tell each way apart just after you’ve tasted the chicken.

I have to say, I have to agree with him in that there are many different ways to prepare chicken and this is the only right way. I’ve tried it many different ways (almost all of the ways he outlined in the book) and this is by far the best. I’ve tried soaking the chicken in batter, even overnight, and it doesn’t seem to matter – the coating still always falls off. The key with preventing that from happening with this recipe is to let the flour sit on the chicken for at least 15 minutes at room temperature. Then just make sure your fat is piping hot and you’ll be fine. I’ve also heard that the paper bag is essential, but I’ve tried it with a plastic resealable bag and it seemed to turn out just fine.

One more thing about this recipe – the gravy reminded me of KFC’s chicken gravy, which I totally love, but is it bad that food from scratch reminds me of fast food?


2 1/2 lb. frying chicken, cut into 8 different pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup lard 

For the Gravy:
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper


1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse the chicken and pat them entirely dry with paper towels. Sprinkle pieces with salt on all sides.

2.) Put the cup of flour in a sturdy, brown paper bag. Drop the pieces of chicken into the bag, a few at a time, and shake until chicken is entirely coated with flour. As you’re finished coating the chicken, remove them from the bag, shake off excess flour, and lay on a rack over top of a baking sheet. When finished all pieces of chicken, leave them – untouched – for at least 15 minutes.

3.) When ready to start frying, melt lard over high heat in a 10″ – 12″ heavy-bottomed skillet. The fat should be at least 1/4″ deep; if it’s not, add more lard until it is. When a light haze has formed around the lard, gently drop the chicken pieces in, skin side down. Begin with the legs and thighs, as they will take longer to cook, before adding the breasts and then the wings. Lower the heat to about medium, cover, and cook chicken for about 6 – 8 minutes. Check the chicken periodically as it cooks to ensure that it does not burn.

4.) Once the chicken has finished browning on one side, turn over, cover the pan again and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes. When the chicken has finished cooking, place in a casserole dish and transfer to the oven to keep warm.

5.) Pour off all but two tablespoons of fat from the skillet. Add two tablespoons of flour and stir until the flour and fat are thoroughly combined. Cook for about 2 minutes to cook out the flavour of the flour. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock, and whisk until thoroughly combined and there are no lumps in the mixture. Then slowly add in the cream and whisk over moderate heat until gravy is smooth and entirely combined. If gravy is too thick, whisk is more chicken stock. If gravy is too thick or lumps remain in it, strain it through a fine sieve. Stir in salt and white pepper to taste, and then pour into a gravy boat.

6.) Remove chicken from oven and place on a platter centered around, or alongside, gravy boat.

7.) Serve and enjoy!