Perfect Fried Chicken
- Brine the bird. Add your favorite flavoring to the brine.
- Marinate the bird. Season the marinade.
- Create the crust. Season the flour generously.
- Choose your pan. Cast iron means even heat and even browning.
- Fry right. Fry in vegetable oil, but add a little bacon grease for flavor.
- Cover it up.
- Serve it forth. Sprinkle the cooked chicken with a dusting of spices for one last flavor hit.
This recipe combines the best advice of the experts: brining for moist, juicy chicken; marinating in buttermilk for tenderness; seasoned flour for a crisp crust; and a little bacon grease mixed into the frying fat to add savory flavor. The brining and marinating mean you'll have to think ahead - start this recipe at lunchtime the day you'll set it on the table. Remember that the side you start frying a piece on will always look better than the other side. You may want to use two skillets for the frying.
Â 1 cup salt
Â 1 quart water
Â 1 chicken, 2-1/2 to 3 pounds, cut into 8 pieces
Â 2 cups buttermilk
Â 1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
Â 1 cup flour
Â 1 teaspoon each: salt, ground red pepper, garlic powder
Â 4 cups vegetable oil
Â 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
Dissolve salt and water in a large bowl; add the chicken. Cover; refrigerate 3-4 hours. Pour off the brine; rinse the chicken well under running water in the bowl. Drain. Add buttermilk and hot sauce to chicken. Cover bowl; refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Combine the flour, salt, red pepper and garlic powder in another large bowl or food storage bag; drain the chicken pieces. Add 2 or 3 pieces of chicken to the bag; seal. Shake to coat chicken. Remove chicken to a rack; refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to a depth of 12 to 34 inch; stir in the bacon drippings. Heat oil to 350 degrees, or until a drop of water spatters when it hits the hot oil. Add the drumsticks, wings and thighs, skin side down (the oil should come about halfway up the sides of the pieces of chicken). Cover; cook until tiny bubbles begin to appear in the crust on the side facing up, about 10 minutes. Turn; cook 10 minutes. Uncover the skillet; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until chicken is golden brown, 5 to minutes. Remove drumsticks and thighs from skillet to a rack placed over a cookie sheet; place in oven.
Raise heat under skillet to medium-high. Heat oil to 350 degrees; add the breasts, skin side down. Cook until tiny bubbles begin to appear in the crust on the side facing up, about 10 minutes. Turn; cover. Cook 10 minutes; uncover the skillet. Lower the heat to medium-low; cook until golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Makes 6 servings.