4 (8)


Buttermilk fried chicken

Buttermilk fried chicken
Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times

Southern fried chicken, coleslaw, biscuits and ham, brownies -- it's the iconic July 4th picnic, so popular (once upon a time) that it became a cliche of the culture, pictured in classic cartoons, nostalgic children's books -- and, of course, ... Read more

Total time: 55 minutes, plus overnight brining and drying time | Serves 4 to 6
  • 1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 6 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • Canola oil

Step 1Place the chicken on a cutting board with the back facing up. Using a sturdy pair of kitchen shears, remove the backbone from the body. Halve the chicken lengthwise with a sturdy chef's knife, cutting through the sternum. Remove the thighs and drumsticks at the joints, as well as the wings. Cut each breast crosswise into thirds. You will have 12 pieces, not including the back (the back can be discarded or prepared with the rest of the chicken). Set aside.

Step 2In a large resealable plastic bag, or in a large nonreactive container, combine the salt with 2 quarts water, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Stir in the garlic, thyme and rosemary, then add the chicken pieces, making sure they are completely submerged. Seal the bag or cover the container tightly, and refrigerate overnight.

Step 3Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place the buttermilk in a medium bowl. In a large, shallow baking dish, combine the flour, cayenne pepper and Hungarian paprika.

Step 4Dip the chicken, one piece at a time, in the buttermilk. Shake off the excess buttermilk and dredge in the flour mixture, coating the piece completely. Repeat once more with the buttermilk and flour for a double coating of batter. Repeat with all of the pieces, placing the dredged pieces on a wire rack. Allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour to dry completely.

Step 5Heat one-half inch of oil in a large, heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat until a thermometer inserted reads 325 degrees. Fry the chicken, a few pieces at a time, until they are a rich, golden brown on each side, about 15 minutes total. The meat should be firm; a thermometer inserted should read 160 degrees. Remove the fried chicken to a paper-towel-lined pan or plate.

Step 6If not serving immediately, allow the chicken to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. Pack in an air-tight container before transporting.

Note: From test kitchen director Donna Deane. Serve the chicken with lemon wedges and a drizzle of hot sauce.


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