1-1/2 cups peanut oil for frying

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 fryer pieces

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup Half-N-Half light cream

1 cup water

1 cup all purpose flour

1 Tbsp. kosher or sea salt

1 Tbsp. ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. garlic, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped

Chopped dill pickles for garnish

First, preheat the oil in a heavy 12-inch cast iron frying pan until it is up to frying temperature (350 degrees). Note: You want to be certain the oil 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, sprinkle them with salt and black pepper and beat together the eggs, the Half-N-Half, the water, and a little extra salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl.

Now dip the chicken pieces into the egg wash to coat them. Then dredge them in the flour in a 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 a few 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 a total of about 12 minutes (usually 8 minutes on one side and 4or 5 minutes on the other). If the oil pops as the pieces fry, simply reduce the flame a little.

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 pickles, parsley, and garlic.


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. Austin also says, '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. If you'd prefer not to mix your own dredging coating, you can substitute Frank Davis Gourmet Chicken Fried Mix for the do-it-yourself stuff. If it isn't available where you shop, you can order it online at www.frankdavis.com.