Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken

Buttermilk-brined fried chicken.

Buttermilk-brined chicken is a Southern classic. This recipe uses a litany of spices and herbs you should already have in your pantry, so putting things together is a snap. Buttermilk also saves you from having to mix up wet ingredients for the dredge: Simply drain excess buttermilk off from the brine and you’re good to go.

Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken

Serves | 4 |

Brine

  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbsp celery seed
  • 1 qt buttermilk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Tabasco sauce
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 whole chicken, broken down into 8 to 10 pieces (steps on p. 45)

Frying

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 3 qts vegetable or peanut oil

| Preparation – Brine | In a small bowl, mix together first 6 ingredients. In a high-sided casserole dish, add buttermilk; whisk in spices and add bay leaves and Tabasco sauce. Squeeze in lemon juice and add spent lemon halves to buttermilk mixture; submerge chicken pieces, coating on all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

| Preparation – Frying | Remove chicken from refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before frying to take the chill off. Set a metal rack over a lipped baking sheet. In a wide, shallow baking dish, whisk together cake flour, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper until blended. Remove chicken pieces from brine, one at a time, allowing excess batter to drip off. Dredge in flour mixture, pressing chicken in with your hands and making sure meat is evenly coated; transfer to prepared wire rack. Repeat with remaining chicken and let rest for 30 minutes.

In a deep cast-iron Dutch oven, add enough oil to coat the bottom with 2 to 3 inches. Heat oil until it registers 350°F on a candy thermometer. Fry chicken in batches, without crowding. Temperature will drop as you add chicken: keep oil hovering around 325°F during the frying, bringing temperature back up to 350°F before adding the next batch. Let cook, turning once with tongs, until chicken is a deep golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 155°F. Using a spider strainer, remove chicken to a metal rack and cover with paper towels to drain, sprinkling with salt to finish. Serve warm.

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Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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