After breakfast, why throw away the bacon grease when it’s great for cooking french fries, onion rings, and, of course, fried chicken? It’s like the food was kissed by a salty smoke flavor. This recipe, from James Beard’s American Cookery by James Beard (Little, Brown and Company, 1972), was one Beard’s father used.
- 8 strips bacon
- 3⁄4 cup flour
- 1 (3-4 lb.) chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 tbsp. bacon grease
- 1 1⁄2 cups light cream
- 2 tbsp. brandy
- 1-2 dashes Tabasco
- Preheat oven to 200°. Lay strips of bacon in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet and cook on the stovetop over medium heat, turning often, until browned and crisp, 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, put 3 tbsp. of the flour into a small bowl and set aside. Put remaining flour into a wide dish, dredge chicken in the flour, shaking off excess, and set aside.
- Transfer bacon to paper towels to let drain, then put on a plate and keep warm in oven. Pour grease from skillet into a heatproof bowl and wipe out browned bits from bottom of skillet. Return grease to skillet, straining out any sediment, and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken legs and thighs, skin side down, to skillet, season to taste with salt and pepper, and fry, turning occasionally, until well browned all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate as done. Repeat with chicken breasts and wings. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to skillet, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes more. Put chicken on a heatproof platter as done and keep warm in oven.
- Measure rendered fats from skillet; add additional bacon grease or pour off excess fat to yield 3 tbsp. Return fat to skillet and heat over medium heat until hot. Whisk in reserved flour and cook for 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in cream and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add brandy and Tabasco to gravy, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring 15-30 seconds more. Serve chicken and bacon together with gravy on the side.