Family legend has it this recipe came from the famous Topsy's Fried Chicken restaurant in Roxbury, Massachusetts. My grandmother, Jeannette, worked there as a server in the mid-20th century for a number of years during which the chef refused to part with the secret recipe. But on her last day of work he finally relented and gave it to her.
While I can't vouch for the authenticity of this story my Internet searches revealed Topsy's was a franchise, and apparently the different restaurants had different recipes. I've found several other versions and some Topsy's discussion groups that talk about this. Each of the recipes I saw had one thing in common: Cold chicken and cold batter. So that's apparently the true secret to Topsy's Famous Chicken. We usually make a double or triple batch!
Although this version of the recipe doesn't brine the chicken prior to cooking some of the others do. So if you have the time to take the extra step, brine chicken for at least 2 hours prior to parboiling. This helps tenderize it.
frying chicken (about 3 lbs.)
cut into pieces
for deep frying
oil should be at least 1 inch deep
Electric or gas deep fryer, or a large, deep, frying pan or stock pot.
Chef or Boning Knife
Wide shallow mixing bowl.
Parboil the chicken in water for approx. 1/2 hour. Remove the chicken from the pan, refrigerate and let cool completely. (You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate overnight.)
Note: The chicken must be cold when frying so the batter will adhere to it properly. If you don't have time to let it stand in the refrigerator for an hour or two after boiling then immerse chicken in an ice water bath for 15 minutes.
When you're ready to begin frying preheat the oil to about 365°F in a deep fryer or a deep skillet. (If using a skillet be careful not to overfill as the frying process will cause the oil to bubble up and could spill over.)
While the oil is heating beat together the following ingredients in a wide, shallow mixing bowl: flour, chicken broth, egg, salt, baking powder; The consistency should be like a thin panckake batter.
Dip the cold chicken pieces into the cold batter and fry in hot oil until golden brown. (Don't crowd chicken pieces in the pan. Instead fry them in batches.)
As each piece of chicken becomes golden brown (10-15 minutes) remove to a heated platter or a shallow baking pan kept in a warm (145 degree F) oven.
Chicken may be served warm or at room temperature.