So, here's the thing: I've got a serious affliction. Every 22 days I get a deep, primal urge for fried chicken. It use to be manageable, I could head to my local favourite restaurant and gorge on a 1/2 fried chicken. The craving would subside, but I was never quite satisfied. Then I started trying recipes, testing techniques and now - there is no going back. This recipe is not quick, but it produces the most succulent, juicy, crispy fried chicken I've ever had. EVER.
All good recipes start with the best ingredients and the quality of your chicken is no exception. I opt to buy a whole chicken and cut it into 12 pieces. It's cheaper and it makes me feel ... manly. If you've never butchered a chicken it's also remarkably easy. All you need is a half decent knife and a quick lesson from youtube, I like this one.
Up next in our fried chicken journey is a buttermilk brine. This step seasons, flavours and tenderizes the chicken. More importantly, brining the chicken also pumps it full of moisture so that when you fry it the result is the juiciest, most succulent chicken you've ever sunk your teeth into. Don't. Skip. This. Step. (Please.)
Before frying, we need to dry out the skin of the chicken. If we don't do this, the chicken won't fry properly and you'll get a soggy (and oily) crust. This is accomplished by removing the chicken from the buttermilk brine a couple of hours before we want to fry it and placing it on a cooling rack to drip dry. It works perfectly and results in that crunchy crust we're after.
After a quick dunk in flour and a buttermilk batter, we're ready for the oil. This step is especially suited to enlisting the help of others (thanks Mara & Aaron!). Heated to 375 F the chicken only needs about 5-6 minutes on the first side and an addition 4-5 minutes on the second.
Couple of tips here: use a cast iron pan (it helps retain the heat better) and don't overcrowd the chicken. Adding too much chicken to the oil can cause the temperature to drop substantially, which means the chicken won't crisp-up and instead will become laden with oil. Fry in small batches (~4 pieces), keeping the chicken warm in the oven until ready.
And here is our result. Excuse me while I bombard you with photos...
I think this vantage really offers something the last didn't...
Aaaannnnd, here it is on a plate instead:
Alright, alright. That's enough, I'll stop spamming you. But - as you might imagine - I really like this fried chicken... I can't help myself... and it really tastes that good.
Chicken aside, I had a blast gathering some friends in the kitchen, pouring some beer, and deep frying to our content. I hope you get the chance to try this recipe out, and if you do - I'd love to hear how it goes.