You know you’re in the South when Chicken Fried Chicken with Peppered Milk Gravy shows up on the menu. Made with boneless chicken pieces it the provides the perfect foundation for a generous drizzle of rich peppered milk pan gravy. Pair with creamy mashed potatoes, a skillet of colorful Southern succotash and basket filled with fresh from the oven buttermilk biscuits and it’s a mighty fine taste of the South in your mouth. Don’t forget the sweet tea to wash it all down and for dessert? Why pound cake, of course.
I know you’re wondering why this dish is called chicken fried chicken and it’s actually pretty simple. Classic fried chicken is made with bone-in chicken pieces from a whole bird. Chicken fried chicken is made with boneless skinless chicken pieces usually chicken breasts but, occasionally thighs as well. It’s widely believed that this dish actually evolved from chicken fried steak. German immigrants who settled in Texas brought with them a classic Austrian dish called Wiener schnitzel made with thinly pounded pieces of veal. Settling in Texas where beef was abundant they used the same technique adapted to beef. Hence Chicken Fried Steak was born. Fast forward to this century when chicken is in abundance and country cooks began making boneless skinless chicken pieces, pounded and coated with breading just like chicken fried steak. Thus chicken fried chicken was born.
Regardless of it’s origin this dish is bonefide country comfort food. The advantage of making fried chicken using this technique is, it cooks more quickly without the bone so it’s suitable for meals even on busy days. My Mom would would serve this chicken with green beans and perhaps some deviled eggs and in the summer a side of sliced tomatoes straight from the garden. Crunchy cole slaw or corn may make an appearance as well. It’s country cooking at it’s finest and easy to prepare.
Chicken Fried Chicken with Peppered Milk Gravy
- 6 8-oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup crushed saltine crackers crumbs or panko breadcrumbs
- 1½ tsp seasoned salt
- 1½ tsp onion powder
- 1½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 Tbsp pan drippings
- 1 tsp ground black pepper divided (Adjust to your taste)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 14-oz can evaporated milk
- 1 cup whole milk plus additional as needed to thin
- Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken breasts to about 1/2-inch in uniform thickness. Season on both sides with seasoned salt and black pepper.
- Sift together the flour, cracker crumbs, 1½ tsp seasoned salt, 1½ tsp onion powder, 1½ tsp garlic powder and smoked paprika. Set aside.
- Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs.
- Dip the chicken pieces into the seasoned flour, then into the egg wash, then back into the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess.
- Place onto a baking pan in a single layer. Refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes or up to 1 hour to allow the breading to set.
- To prepare: Preheat the oven to 350°F and fit a baking rack into a rimmed baking pan.
- Heat 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil in a large 12-inch cast iron skillet or similar.
- Brown the chicken about 2 minutes per side. Repeat frying in batches with all 6 pieces.
- Place browned chicken onto the rack and into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the juices run clear.
- Meanwhile to make the gravy: Discard all but 4 Tbsp of the drippings.
- Add the flour to the drippings stirring constantly over medium high heat scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. .Add the salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
- Gradually add the evaporated and regular milk whisking constantly. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and allow the gravy to gently simmer for 3-5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt to your taste. Thin further with additional milk, if needed.
- Serve the milk gravy drizzled over the chicken fried chicken and garnish with remaining black pepper.(Adjust the amount to your taste)