Photos: Wendy Goodfriend, Video: Vic Chin and Peter Ruocco
Chicken soaked in buttermilk brine fried to crisp and light perfection
I’ve concluded that fried chicken is never going out of style. I don’t care how many gluten-free folks and vegans roam the earth, they will always be outnumbered by lovers of fried chicken. I’m making light of dietary restrictions, but truthfully I understand how those little changes in diet can make a big impact in quality of life. We’re lucky that there are so many menu options these days. If I could count how much fried chicken I’ve cooked and served in the past 10 years…
I can’t remember a week growing up when we didn’t have fried chicken at least twice…maybe more. It was my mother’s go-to protein and one I think she found very satisfying to prepare. No doubt that it reminded her of her own mother. And I feel the same way today. My mom always placed her flour and spices in a paper bag and tossed in the chicken to coat it that way. There was a commercial product that suggested this technique. Those of us who are old enough, I’m sure recall.
I know that many people find cooking with a large amount of hot oil very intimidating and I can’t encourage enough attention to safety and caution when frying. Make sure you’re not distracted and that everyone in the vicinity is aware of your activity. If you fry at the right temperature, the oil should create a nice rolling bubble. There shouldn’t be any smoke or splatter. Also, the key is to not overcrowd the pot.
Recipe: Brown Sugar Kitchen’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Makes 4 servings
- 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- ¼ cup blackening spice (see details below)
- 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
- Canola or rice bran oil for deep-frying (amount depends on the size of the pot being used)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the blackening spice:
- Place chicken in a large bowl and rub with blackening spice (cayenne pepper, sweet paprika, thyme, oregano, 1 tsp black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, 2 tsp salt). Add the dried tarragon and freshly chopped parsley and toss to coat. Pour in the buttermilk, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. In a deep enameled cast-iron pot, add oil to a depth of 3-4 in and heat the oil to 350°F/180°C. Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a large wide bowl, combine the flour, 1 tbsp salt, and 1 tbsp black pepper. One piece at a time, transfer the chicken from the marinade to the flour mixture. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.
- Fry the chicken, a few pieces at a time, taking care not to crowd the pot and turning occasionally, until crisp and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to the rack over the baking sheet to continue cooking in the oven until the internal temperature registers 165°F/75°C, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve immediately to accompany Cornmeal Waffles.