Friday, September 2, 2011

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Fried chicken....just saying the words aloud make me want to bite into a crisp, juicy drumstick, preferably on a big, wide expanse of jewel green lawn in the sunshine. Whenever I'm planning a summer picnic, fried chicken is the first thing that goes on my must-make list. It's delicious fresh out of the fryer, but has it's own charms served cold or at room temperature, out of a plastic container en plein air. But let's be real. When is fried chicken ever bad? It's a hard thing to mess up.

That said, not every fried chicken recipe is created equal. This one, from Andrea Reusing's beautiful cookbook, Cooking in the Moment, is one of the best ones I've tried. The chicken is drowned in buttermilk overnight so that the meat tightens up and retains it's juices, and then fried in a traditional mixture of flour, salt, and pepper until crisp golden brown. Yum. One caveat: be careful when placing the chicken into your oil--it will splatter and burn you something awful if you're not. Believe me, I know. xo

P.S. I served my chicken with a perfect side of green beans. Recipe HERE.

Fried Chicken
From Cooking in the Moment, by Andrea Reusing
1 3½-4 lb. chicken, rinsed, dried, trimmed, and cut into ten pieces
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Lard or expeller-pressed vegetable oil for frying

Put the chicken, buttermilk, and 1 tbsp. salt into a large bowl. Stir well and refrigerate overnight.

In a colander, drain chicken and let it come to room temperature. In a large bowl, mix together flour, remaining salt, and pepper.

Fill two large cast-iron skillets (or other deep, heavy saute pans) with lard (or oil) about 1 inch deep. Heat over medium high to 325°. Starting with the dark meat, lightly coat one piece of chicken at a time in flour mixture, brushing off excess flour. (Avoid pressing the flour into the chicken.) Gently lay floured chicken in oil. Don’t move it at all for the first few minutes, so it doesn’t stick.

Repeat with the remaining dark meat, then move on to the white, ideally cooking the two in separate pans. Once a pan is about three-quarters full, reduce heat to low and partially cover.

Watch chicken closely, turning the pieces with tongs as needed for even cooking and rotating the pan itself on the burner. As the first side turns deep golden brown (8-10 minutes), turn the pieces over and continue to cook until the they are evenly crispy (another 8-10 minutes). The dark meat will take a little longer than the white.

Transfer the chicken to a clean brown paper bag to drain. Serve warm or at room temperature.