Thompson Family Fried Chicken

It is was always a treat when my dad made fried chicken growing up. In the summer and over holidays, he would make big batches for dinner parties and we would eat it cold for picnic leftovers that week. My sister and I always request fried chicken when we visit our parent’s home over holidays. When putting together a Southern menu for 30 guests – I knew it was a perfect fit for my menu. Until I realized that it was going to be 95 on the day I needed to fry chicken for 30 people. One of Michael Pollen’s Food Rules is to not eat fried foods unless you make them yourself. After frying six pounds of chicken in the middle of a 95 degree summer day, I think I might never eat fried food under this rule.

After an hour of sweating over a cast iron skillet, I was actually quite satisfied. There was plenty to hold down the party (and soak up all the Southern Comfort Punch) and enough for leftovers the next day.

Thompson Family Fried Chicken Fingers with  Sour Cream and Horseradish Dipping Sauce


  • 1 pint buttermilk
  • 3 to 4 splashes tabasco sauce
  • 2 or 3 pounds chicken tenderloin/chicken breasts
  • 2 or 3 cups flour
  • salt and pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • half pint sour cream
  • hot fresh horseradish

Assembly: Soak chicken in buttermilk and tabasco for 24 hours. When ready to fry, coat the chicken with a mix of plain flour with some salt, pepper and cayenne (to taste). Fry in a in a deep cast iron pan with hot canola oil (about 350 to 375 degrees).  Don’t crowd the pieces.  Once the first side looks good, turn the heat down to low and simmer the chicken for about 5 minutes , then turn the heat back up to crisp the other side.  If cooking chicken with bones, you will need to increase the cooking time.  The slow cooking is really what makes it good, but you’ve got to have the grease hot when you finish and take out the pieces, or they won’t be crispy.  Lightly salt when they come out of the oil. Use a deep cast iron pan if you have one—it holds the heat better. Cool completely before you refrigerate.

Mix sour cream and horseradish together to your taste. Serve on the side.


  1. I fry chicken in my Le Creuset french oven and it works great—with the high sides, it really cuts down on the mess.

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