Southern Fried Chicken with Pan Gravy

February 18, 2009 at 9:00 am (Pan gravy, Recipes, Southern Fried Chicken) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

By Brother John

Fried Chicken with Pan Gravy

Ask any southern woman the best way to her man’s heart, and she will tell you it’s her crispy Southern Fried Chicken! Today I’m going to walk you through making my version of this all time favorite. We’re going to make Southern Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes with Pan Gravy, and a nice veggie side. Yummy! You’ll get the step-by-step right here, and I’ll include a recipe on our sites “Food and Wine Recipes” section to go along with it.

Mixing a dry rub.

For extra flavor, I like to first make a dry rub that I’ll use to directly coat my raw chicken pieces. It gets flavor directly onto the chicken skin, (or if you are eating healthy, directly onto the chicken meat). Just mix up some sea salt, black cracked pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Apply generously to your fresh chicken pieces.

Mixing a dry rub.

The moisture from your fresh chicken will allow the rub to stay in place with enough remaining moisture to hold onto the first layer of the crispy coating that’s coming up next. Be sure to generously coat both sides of each piece!

The Crispy Coating

Next, we want to prepare the crispy coating that will go onto the chicken. I like to use a combination of flour, sea salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (since I always enjoy a touch of heat). You’ll want to mix these ingredients into a bowl large enough to easily dredge your pre-seasoned chicken. I like to double coat my chicken so we’ll use this mixture in two stages. The first stage is done right after applying the dry rub (mentioned above), and the next stage will occur right after soaking your chicken in an egg wash.

Making an Egg Wash.

I like to mix up a simple egg wash to which I add a small amount of hot sauce. But that’s just the way I roll!!! Your chicken will then have a layer of pre-seasoning, and an initial first coating of seasoned flour. With that said, it’s ready to take a dip in the egg wash. Your flour coating should get moistened (become a bit gummy) but should not be allowed to actually wash off the chicken. Do this carefully, and slowly. You’ll need enough moisture to later dredge back through the flour mixture a second time. We (in the cooking trade) call this: “Double Dipping”. It makes for a very crispy/crunchy final product!

Chicken 'Double Dipped' in Flour Mixture.

So, let’s review what we now have. We have a pre-seasoned layer, another layer dredged through our flour mixture, an egg washed layer, and a final layer dredged through our flour mixture one more time. Our pieces are ready to be fried in hot oil. (At this point, you could also deep fry these, which is probably better and faster, but I’m going to want to make pan gravy from the rendered fat and oil).

Chicken Starting To Fry.

As always when working with very hot oil (350°), please be sure to carefully lower your chicken pieces so that you won’t get burned. I use tongs and try to lower each piece by its front, then middle, and then its back. (If any splashing were to occur this way, it would be away from me, not toward me).

Fry Until Golden Brown.

You’re best bet for crispy fried chicken is to let it bask in the hot oil and don’t mess with it!!! I like to fry my chicken in just two passes. Since it takes about 30 to 45 minutes until done, turn your chicken after about half that time. The goal is to have it turn golden brown in the time it takes to be completely cooked (but not overcooked). Practice makes perfect it’s true, but it’s also not that hard to judge if you keep an eye on it from time to time.

Ready To Eat.

When golden brown and crispy lower your heat (medium-low) and carefully remove the chicken pieces from the hot oil. Place pieces onto paper towels to drain off any excess oil, then we’ll let them rest in a warm oven (175°). The pan gravy will happen fairly quickly so our pieces won’t have to rest in the warm oven for long.

The Gritty/Brown/Good Bits.

And now for the pan gravy. This will be a milk based gravy that starts out with all that gritty brown goodness at the bottom and sides of our pan. We need to drain off all but a few tablespoons of oil, (but we need to be very careful not to lose any of the gritty stuff!). Believe me when I tell you, the bits left behind are full of flavor!!! Next we’ll add some flower to make a roux (pronounced “Roo” or “Rue”). A roux is made from equal parts flour and oil. You slowly whisk in your flour until the mixture is thick (think plaster of Paris or cake frosting). It’s important to keep whisking/stirring so that the flour will be evenly cooked by the oil. We want the thickening properties of the flour, but none of that raw flour taste. Eventually the flour will begin to brown. You can stop browning at any point between light golden to mahogany in color but don’t go beyond mahogany. The darker the roux, the more flavor added to the gravy. And don’t have your heat too high! You’ll go from white flour to burnt!

Creamy Pan Gravy.

Once we have our roux paste, we can begin to slowly add cold milk to it. You must always add cold liquid to a heated roux and we’ll do this a little at a time. As we add the milk, we’ll keep whisking/stirring it so it stays creamy and free from lumps. As the roux begins to absorb the milk, it will begin to thin out. At that point you can pour in the rest of your milk but continue to stir! To get best flavor, you should simmer the gravy for about 10 to 20 minutes. That will allow all of the remaining flour to absorb the liquid making it silky smooth.

Creamy Buttery Mashed Potatoes.

And nothing goes better in the world with homemade pan gravy then creamy buttery Mashed Potatoes!!! Now I know that some of you will pour some of the pan gravy onto your crispy southern fried chicken and that’s fine. But me? I’m a purist. I like my southern fried chicken to stay crispy/crunchy on the outside, and tender/moist on the inside. But don’t worry… I always make up for it with extra helpings of mashed potatoes! Yummy! The only thing left to do is to make up a side veggie. I’m partial to french style greenbeans so that’s what I’ll make. And now… it’s eatin’ time!!!


  1. Sis said,

    Hey Brother John,

    Of course I’m reading this on a busy night at work where up to this point I’ve wolfed down a granola bar and less than fresh grapes. I will have to try this. I’ve been destroying fried chicken for years, it’s something I’ve NEVER gotten the hang of. One thing Sammy’s Aunt Sally told me was that I “worry my chicken most to death.” From your instructions I guess that means I have to stop hovering over the chicken with the tongs ready to grab and turn, grab and turn, grab and turn. Am I too obsessive/compulsive for good fried chicken? I am going to try the whole meal (except the french style green beans which Sammy doesn’t like) next weekend. Umm Umm Good!

    Love ya,

    • Brother John said,


      Certainly, certainly, you must get in touch with your “Southern” roots. Our Dad’s side of the family all came from Tazewell County, Virginia after all. Don’t “worry” your chicken. Think of your chicken as basking in it’s own hotbed of cooking oil. See the nice bubbles? Hear that sound? Could it be the sound of a gentle rain? Your chicken needs time to caramelize after which it won’t stick to the pan. If you “worry” it before it can caramelize, layers of it will stick to the bottom of the pan. Further worrying will peel off more layers all of which will build up on the bottom of your pan. Just give it time to caramelize and you’ll be able to turn it easily. Of course… all things in moderation. If you get too relaxed, maybe leave it and go read a book, your smoke detector may call you back in shame. And the same thing might happen if you let your cooking oil get too hot! But if you stay calm and relaxed, so too will be your cooking experience. I really enjoyed making (and eating) this one!

      Brother John
      Lansdowne, Pennsylvania USA

  2. Donna said,

    Brother John,

    Yummy- good job on the low-salt cooking. I just have doubts about the gravy– I always have doubt about gravy.


    • Brother John said,


      I know you grew up in a family that didn’t believe in covering/masking the flavors of your food with “gravy”. So I guess this is an acquired taste. When I was growing up I never put gravy on my mashed potatoes and people in my family thought I was a bit strange. I also didn’t like any kind of tomato sauce on my pasta. Butter and salt were my only additional condiments. I’m not certain when I made the switch and started putting gravy and sauce on my food, but that’s certainly how I enjoy it today. Who knows? Perhaps Michael will get you to try it from time to time and it might open up some new experiences? But please feel free to utilize my recipe/techniques in any way that pleases you!

      Brother John
      Lansdowne, Pennsylvania USA

  3. Sis said,

    Brother John,

    I just read through this again. I am so hungry at work right now and all I have is some high fiber cereal and a yogurt. Sticks and twigs cereal. I may be regular and not hungry after eating it, but I won’t be happy.

    Love ya,

    • Brother John said,

      Good morning Sis!

      Actually, that’s a nice compliment! Nice to know this post is “yummy” enough to keep bringing you back! Kathy and I have been enjoying the Italian Wedding Soup and the savory Chicken Marengo we made on Saturday. Of the two, I’d definitely say the Italian Wedding Soup (complete with 40 mini meatballs) is my personal favorite for the week. I’ve been eating it for both breakfast AND lunch! That one’s a certain “keeper” for sure! Next time I make it, I’ll take some pictures and will post a step-by-step and a recipe here on the blog. Nothing like a hot steaming bowl of rich flavorful Italian Wedding Soup on a cold winter’s day!

      Brother John

  4. Donna said,

    Brother John,

    Well, the stuffed peppers are just out of the oven. There are plenty for you and Kathy! Mike and I are experimenting with a new chicken enchilada recipe for this evening. Plus, we have chocolate chip cookies waiting to be baked! Yummmmmm.

    We have been doing a lot of pasta lately. Found a really cool place in Little Italy that gives a behind-the-scenes tour and includes a pasta making demo. You know Mike and I are always up for some cool side trip! Gotta get it on the social schedule!

    Enjoy the cooking!

  5. L said,

    Here I am, reading this recipe again! Or rather, looking at the pictures, particularly the FINISHED PRODUCT. Now I am going to remind Siggy that he took the time to print this (including your excellent, framed pictures that make it look like it’s right out of a really fine cookbook); yes he printed it, but we can’t eat paper pictures! This is weird, I almost never eat the skin, even from fried chicken, but I want this meal anyway. Even if I take the skin off, I’m sure the taste will be “in there”. Oh, pictures 5px 20% 5px 20% clockwise to center over the background which becomes the “frame”?; padded so the “frame” shows, and outset of course with a good, complementary color!!! So it’s not exactly a frame, more of an image over an image? (Things are not always what they appear to be…) (I do read your lessons, not just copy & paste.)L

  6. L said,

    I’m HUNGRY!!! Had frozen/cooked Boston Market macaroni &cheese tonite; not nearly as good as Stouffer’s mac & cheese. We still haven’t had the fried chicken. We did have some delicious wild Scottish salmon the other nite — I love salmon, it’s so CLEAN. So, what did you cook today?

    • Brother John said,

      I get lots of comments on this recipe, especially when people are HUNGRY! I can tell you, it’s one of my favorites! I mentioned on my facebook account that I made a Spinach Quiche complete with a “from scratch” homemade pie shell this weekend. Crust was light and flaky and the whole thing quite delicious. I’m a big lover of Spinach, but I also like them made with Broccoli. I was saying on facebook that I really think I need to start taking the camera back out to the kitchen when I cook, I haven’t done that in a while. People seem to enjoy my step-by-step cooking. You were talking about Mac and Cheese. I have a “most excellent” recipe for Mac and Cheese, that I make along with my “Catholic” meal. Again, Spinach, Mac and Cheese, Stewed Tomatoes, and usually Maryland Crab Cakes. I make a great tarter sauce for the cakes, I modify the stewed tomatoes, add a bit of butter to the Spinach, and use my no-fail recipe for Mac and Cheese. That meal doesn’t usually last too long. In fact… it gets eaten very quickly!

      Brother John
      Lansdowne, Pennsylvania USA

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