Peppery Chicken Fried Chicken

                Peppery Chicken Fried Chicken

8 (6-oz) skinned and boned chicken breasts
4 ½ tsp salt, divided
2 ½ tsp ground black pepper, divided
76 saltine crackers (2 sleeves) crushed
2 ½ cups flour, divided
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground red pepper
8 cups milk, divided
4 eggs,
Peanut oil

Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and flatten to ¼ -inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.
Sprinkle ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper evenly over chicken.  Set aside.
Combine cracker crumbs, 2 cups flour, baking powder, 1 ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, and ground red pepper.
Whisk together 1 ½ cups milk and eggs. Dredge chicken in cracker crumb mixture; dip in milk mixture.  Dredge in cracker mixture again.
Pour oil to a depth of ½ inch into a 12-inch skillet (do not use a nonstick skillet).  Heat to 360°.  Fry chicken, in batches, 10 minutes, adding oil as needed.  Turn and fry 4 to 5 more minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to a wire rack on a jellyroll pan.  Keep chicken warm in a 225° oven.  Carefully drain hot oil, reserving cooked bits and 2 T drippings in skillet.
Whisk together remaining ½ cup flour, remaining 2 ½ tsp salt, remaining 1 tsp black pepper, and remaining 6 ½ cups milk.  Pour mixture into reserved drippings in skillet; cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened.  Serve gravy with chicken.  Yield:  8 to 10 servings.


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