Fried chicken is not something I make often, but every time I do, it’s a big hit. I always serve it to a crowd on New Year’s Day as part of our traditional soul food meal. It’s also great served in the summer for a picnic because it tastes great cold. I use the same recipe for fried chicken that I use for homemade chicken tenders (which I will post separately). The secret to the recipe is the buttermilk. It tenderizes the chicken and makes for a great wet component for the batter. If possible, soak the chicken in the buttermilk overnight, or a minimum of four hours.In this batch, I only used thighs, legs, and whole wings. When selecting chicken, choose small fryer pieces. Split breasts can be difficult to find; if you don’t find small split breasts, ask your butcher to split some for you. Another secret is to season the chicken at all stages, I season the buttermilk, I season the raw chicken, I season the dry batter mix, and I season the chicken after it’s fried. You can alter the recipe to make spicy fried chicken – simply add cayenne pepper or a Cajun seasoning mix (depending on what flavor you prefer) to the dry batter mixture. If you use a Cajun seasoning mix, cut back on the salt as it will already be in the mix. This crispy fried chicken holds up well to re-heating, which also makes it good for a crowd because you can keep the chicken warm in the oven. I have a small deep fryer which I use, but you can easily fry on the stove in a dutch oven or heavy duty stock pot; if you fry on the stove, make sure you have a frying/candy thermometer to regulate the temperature of the oil. When frying, don’t overcrowd the chicken or the oil temperature will reduce too much. Also, fry similar sized pieces together to insure equal cooking time. (Serves 4-6)
- 1 Fryer Chicken- cut into pieces (or 8-10 individual chicken pieces with skin)
- 1 Pint Buttermilk
- 4-5 Cups Flour
- 1 TBS. Corn Starch
- 4 TBS. Salt
- 1-2 TBS. Pepper
- Canola or Vegetable Oil for Frying – About 1 Quart (enough to cover chicken – will vary depending on size of fryer or pot)
Pour buttermilk into a large non-metallic bowl, season with 1 TBS. salt and about 1/2 TBS. pepper. Season chicken generously, on both sides, with salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces to buttermilk, being sure that all pieces are immersed. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight if possible. After chicken has soaked for allotted time, heat the oil, in a fryer or on the stove, to 350 degrees. Prepare the dry batter ingredients by combining flour, corn starch, 2 TBS. salt and 1.5 TBS. pepper in a large freezer bag or a large brown paper bag. Meanwhile, cover a baking sheet with paper towels, and place a wire rack on top. Remove 2-3 similar size chicken pieces from the buttermilk and immediately transfer to the dry dredging/batter mixture. Do not drain off excess buttermilk – the more buttermilk that remains on the chicken, the more flour will adhere, which is what creates that awesome crispy coating. Shake the bag or toss the chicken in the flour mixture by hand, chicken should be generously coated with the dry mixture. Carefully add chicken to hot oil or the fryer basket (not yet immersed). If cooking on stovetop, you may need to turn up the heat for a minute or so to bring the temperature back up to 350 degrees. If using a fryer, dredge another few pieces of chicken and add to basket – when basket is full, but not crowded, lower basket into oil. Fry for 5-9 minutes depending on size of chicken pieces. When chicken is golden brown, use tongs to remove chicken pieces from oil and place on cooling rack to drain. While still hot, season chicken with additional salt. Repeat process until all chicken is cooked.
To keep chicken warm (for up to 45 minutes): place a wire rack on a baking sheet (no paper towel), put chicken on rack and place in 250 degree oven. Check occasionally to make sure chicken is not getting too brown; if so, reduce oven temperature.