Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 15 mins
Fry: 30 mins
- 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 lbs.), breastbone and backbone removed, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups vegetable oil (or 2 lbs. lard)
- In a resealable plastic bag, soak the chicken in the buttermilk for 30 minutes (or up to 12 hours). In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper.
- Remove the chicken pieces and coat them evenly with the flour mixture; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and let stand for 15 minutes. Coat the chicken again in the flour mixture.
- Meanwhile, in an extra-large, heavy skillet, heat the oil to 350 degrees . Carefully add the chicken to the pan and partially cover. Lower the heat to medium-low and fry the chicken, turning occasionally, until the crust is gold-brown and the meat is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. (Lower the temperature if the chicken is browning too quickly.) Transfer to paper towels to drain; serve hot.
- A 3 1/2-pound chicken is the perfect size. Any larger and it won't cook through by the time the skin is golden. If that happens, transfer it to a 300 degrees oven to finish.
- Swap the buttermilk for a marinade of 1/2 cup each water and soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar and 1 tbsp. each grated ginger and garlic; reserve. Sub cornstarch for the flour; coat and fry as directed. Boil the sauce for 3 minutes; strain. Add 1/4 cup honey and 1 tbsp. rice vinegar; brush onto fried chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
- Use 3 lbs. skinless thighs instead of a whole chicken. Add the juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 tsp. kosher salt to the buttermilk. Instead of the flour, coat the chicken with 3/4 cup panko, 4 tsp. fresh thyme and 2 tsp. kosher salt. Bake at 425 degrees on a baking sheet fitted with a rack for 30 minutes. Lower the temp to 300 degrees ; cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with lemons.
- Use 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. legs instead of a whole chicken. Coat and fry as directed. Meanwhile, stir together 6 tbsp. oil or melted lard, 2 tbsp. ground cayenne, 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder and 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt. Brush the mixture onto the chicken as it emerges from the skillet. Serve with white bread and dill pickle slices.
- The secret to extra-crisp skin is that 10-15 minutes before frying when you let the breaded chicken rest. This also helps ensure that the crust won't fall off when you bite in!
- Swap out buttermilk for a marinade of 1/2 cup malt vinegar and 4 tbsp. stone-ground mustard. Coat and fry as directed; pour off all but 2 tbsp. oil. Add 1 tbsp. thyme and cook over medium heat until fragrant. Stir in 3 tbsp. flour, then 1/2 cup beer and 1 cup chicken stock; cook, stirring until thickened.
- Do not use the buttermilk soak. In a food processor, make a paste of 1/4 cup cilantro, 4 garlic cloves, 2 tbsp. oyster sauce and a dash of fish sauce; rub on the chicken. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Instead of flour, use equal parts all-purpose flour, cornstarch and rice flour. Fry as directed. Serve with store-bought thai chili sauce.
- Boil 3 lbs. skinless thighs in water until cooked through. Soak the chicken in the buttermilk as directed. Instead of the flour, coat chicken in 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, the zest of 1 lemon, 2 tsp. dried oregano and a pinch of poultry seasoning. Fry at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 seconds. Top with more zest.
- If you're making a double batch, you can reuse the cooking oil--just be sure to first remove any floating crispy bits using a small strainer.
- Remove the chicken skin. Add 1 tbsp. chopped garlic to the buttermilk soak. Instead of flour, coat the chicken once in 2 cups plain dried breadcrumbs, 2 tsp. dried italian herbs, 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Drizzle with EVOO; bake on a parchment-lined sheet at 425 degrees until the crust is crisp and the meat is cooked, 45 minutes.
- Use 4 whole legs, split into parts, instead of a whole chicken. Stir 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger, 1 tbsp. chopped garlic, 1 tbsp. garam masala and 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne into the buttermilk before adding the chicken to soak. Coat and fry the chicken as directed. Sprinkle with pieces of chopped cilantro before serving.
- Use 2 lbs. chicken wing sections (tips discarded) instead of a whole chicken. Whisk 1/3 cup honey and 1 tsp. hot paprika into the buttermilk. Marinate and coat as directed, but fry for about 22 minutes. Warm 2/3 cup peach jam, 2 tbsp. water and minced jalapeno (to taste), stirring, until smooth. Brush onto the wings.