3-6 cups solid shortening for frying

2 whole chickens, each cut into 8 fryer pieces

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups Half-N-Half light cream

2 cups water

3 cups all purpose flour

3 Tbsp. kosher or sea salt

1 Tbsp. ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. Frank Davis Poultry Seasoning

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped for garnish

First, preheat the shortening in either a heavy 12-inch cast iron frying pan or an electric skillet until it is completely melted and up to frying temperature (but not smoking!). If you're using a black iron skillet, the correct temperature is 350 degrees; if you're using an electric frypan, heat it to 400 degrees. Note: Be certain the shortening has reached the proper temperature before even attempting to fry the first piece of chicken.

Next, wash the chicken pieces under cold running water until thoroughly cleaned; then pat each piece dry with absorbent paper towels. Immediately thereafter, in a medium mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, the Half-N-Half, and the water.

Now, in a 2-gallon-size plastic Zip-Loc bag, uniformly combine the flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and poultry seasoning. Then precisely in order, first dip the chicken into the egg wash to coat it. Then secondly dredge it in the seasoned flour in the Zip-Loc bag (ideally you want to shake the bag briskly to coat every inch of every piece of chicken). Once coated, allow the pieces to either remain in the plastic bag or rest on a piece of waxed paper on the countertop for 4 to 5 minutes. This step 'sets the batter' and keeps the flour from falling off in the oil as the chicken fries.

Finally, when you're ready to cook, add 4 to 6 pieces of chicken at a time to the skillet or fryer (meatiest parts first, which means thighs, breasts, and legs-wings should always go in last). The one thing you don't want to do is crowd them together. Cook until the chicken is tender and the skin is crisp, which adds up to about a total of 12 to 18 minutes (usually 10 minutes on one side and 8 minutes on the other).

Homemade fried chicken should always be drained on several layers of paper towels and served piping hot right from the skillet. In fact, it's best when it's almost too hot to eat! A good way to complete the meal is with a generous helping of oven-baked baby new potatoes and an ice cold tomato/cucumber salad. Garnish everything with a sprinkling of minced parsley.


Chef's Notes:

1. One of the secrets to good homemade fried chicken is to keep the oil clean and the temperature constant. And always always bring your chicken to room temperature before you fry it. Cold chicken will chill your oil too much and make it turn out greasy.

2. As my old friend Austin once told me, 'Don't ever give the milk time to soak into the skin or the sugar in the milk will cause your chicken to turn black.'

3. For best results, the perfect size chicken for frying will weigh 2-1/2 to 3 lbs. Larger pieces take too long to fry all the way through without becoming dried out and chewy.

4. The chicken pieces will fry much crispier and turn out much more flavorable if after about 8 minutes of cooking you pierce each piece at its thickest part with a large two-pronged meat fork. This will guarantee that the chicken will cook all the way to the bone. And don't worry, chicken prepared this way will not dry out nor will it be greasy.

5. To reheat cold chicken properly, bring the pieces first to room temperature. Then heat them in the oven, uncovered on a shallow cooking sheet, at about 300 degrees until hot and crispy.

6. For exceptionally seasoned chicken, sprinkle each piece independently with extra salt and pepper prior to dredging it in the seasoned flour in the Zip-Loc bag. A skosh sprinkling of cayenne directly on the chicken before dredging will also intensify the 'spiciness' of the finished dish.

7. For a great side dish, try boiling some New Orleans Red Hots (A or B size creamer potatoes) in Frank Davis granular crab boil. Leave the skins on. When they're done, let them cool and then cut them in four parts. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, then pour melted butter on top and bake in a 450 degree pre-heated oven until they are nice & toasty. That's all there is to it!