The Cold, Hard Football Facts are not big on TV cooking shows. We'd rather watch the NFL Network 18 hours a day and teach ourselves how to cook in the down time, through the age-old method of trial and error. It's proven a successful strategy, as the 225 Club can attest.
With that said, we pause for any dish that has its origins in the Deep South, and that's how we stumbled across "Paula's Home Cooking" on the Food Network. Host Paula Deen is a Georgia native and self-made American woman who turned $200 into a catering company, one of the most popular restaurants in the South (The Lady and Sons in Savannah) and, finally, into her own TV show. On the tube she focuses, as you might imagine, on traditional southern dishes. Few are more traditional than fried chicken. Paula made this for a day of fishing off the Georgia coast. That's a perfectly noble and just purpose.
We grabbed her recipe, tinkered with the spices a bit to please our palate and found that it's simply spectacular fried chicken and tastes just fine when fried up on the tailgate of the PIGSKN Ford pick-up. This will serve about 3 to 4 people. You might need to pick up an extra chicken or two and expand the recipe accordingly to feed a larger crew.
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • About 1 cup hot red pepper sauce (Paula suggests Texas Pete's, but Frank's Red Hot will work, too)
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • A seasoning blend of ¾ cup kosher salt, ½ cup black pepper (fresh, coarsely ground preferably), and ¼ cup garlic powder
  • A 1 pound to 2½ pound chicken, cut into pieces (two precut wings, legs, thighs and breasts will also do)
  • Frying oil (preferably peanut oil)
Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a deep-fry pan, Dutch oven or tailgate deep-fryer (we find you should heat the oil a little a little hotter, to about 375 degrees, because the temperature will drop when you add the chicken to the pot). Do not fill the pot more than half full with oil. If you don't have an oil thermometer to check the temperature, Paula recommends this trick: put the end of a wooden spoon in the hot oil. If small bubbles instantly form around the wood, the oil is hot enough for frying.
In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the water. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange. In another bowl, combine the flour and the Tablespoon of black pepper.
Rub the chicken with the seasoning blend. You do not need to use the entire batch of house seasoning. If you use the whole thing, the chicken will probably be too salty. Save the rest of the seasoning blend in an airtight container for your next batch of deep-fried chicken.
Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg mixture, and then coat generously in the flour mixture. (Use the wet-hand/dry-hand method -- one hand for the egg mixture and another for the flour mixture. This will keep your hands from getting too caked up with flour.) Fry the chicken in the hot oil until brown and crisp. Dark meat (thighs, for example) takes longer then white meat (breasts). It should take dark meat about 13 to 14 minutes, white meat around 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove with tongs, drain on a brown paper bag and serve immediately. Or let cool, place in a container and cover with a towel, refrigerate and serve on game day. Southern fried chicken will taste just fine the following day.