From Fearless Frying Cookbook, by John Martin Taylor.
Serves 2 devotees or 4 snackers
If you’re going to eat the chicken at room temperature, try this simple deep-frying method. The meat will stay crispy longer. Lard is traditional, but you can use peanut oil. I’m not about to say how many people one little chicken will feed, but if you fry only one, you’ll not have leftovers. What many people do not know about fried chicken (and other fried foods) is that the finished dish can be wrapped well, frozen, and refried to heat it up later. For refrying, use a vegetable oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut oil. Preheat the oil to between 390 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then carefully lower the pieces into the oil, frying them until just warmed through, 1 or 2 minutes. Don’t let the oil go below 365 degrees or above 400 degrees.
1. Wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, drain it well, and pat it completely dry. (If the chicken is freshly butchered, you can soak it for up to 2 hours in ice water to help draw the blood out.) Put enough lard in a large heavy pot to totally cover the chicken pieces (they should float in the fat). Place the pot over medium-high heat, and heat it to 370 degrees. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and set it aside.
2. Combine the flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a heavy paper bag and shake to mix. Add the chicken pieces one at a time, shaking to coat.
3. When the fat reaches 370 degrees, use tongs to lower the chicken into the fat, one piece at a time. Do not crowd the pot, and keep the temperature between 365 and 375 degrees. Fry the chicken until it is golden brown and tender, turning the pieces, if necessary, so they brown evenly, about 20 minutes. As they are done, transfer the pieces to the wire rack. Use a slotted spoon or a wire mesh strainer to remove any debris from the fat then continue frying the rest of the chicken. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine of The Perennial Plate visited China and Japan, where two individuals have started restaurants to preserve their families' farming traditions.