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Ad Hoc Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Yield: about 4 servings


For the Chicken Brine:
1 chicken, 2 ½ to 3 pounds
2 ½ lemons, halved

12 bay leaves
½ bunch parsley
½ bunch thyme
¼ cup honey
½ garlic bulb, unpeeled and smashed
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 cup kosher salt
1 gallon water

For the Coating:
3 cups (420 g) Cup4Cup flour
2 tablespoons (20 g) garlic powder
2 tablespoons (17.5 g) onion powder
2 teaspoons (4 g) paprika
2 teaspoons (4 g) cayenne
2 teaspoons (7 g) kosher salt
½ teaspoons (1 g) ground black pepper

For Dredging and Frying:
Peanut or canola oil for deep frying
2 cups buttermilk
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Fleur de Sel or fine sea salt
Fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme


For the Chicken Brine:

  1. In a large pot, combine all brine ingredients except the chicken and bring to a boil until the salt dissolves.  Take off heat and cool.
  2. Cut the chicken into 10 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breast quarters, and 2 wings.
  3. Place chicken pieces into the cold brine and refrigerate for 12 hrs. (No longer or the chicken may become too salty.)
  4. Remove chicken from brine, discard the brine, and rinse the chicken under cold water. Remove any herbs or spices sticking to the skin.
  5. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and allow it to rest at room temperature for 1 ½ hours or until it comes to room temperature.

For the Coating:

  1. Using a large pot, that is at least 6 inches deep, fill the pot no more than 1/3 of the way up with oil. Heat the oil up to 320°F. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet.
  2. Meanwhile, combine all the coating ingredients together and split it into 2 large bowls.
  3. Pour the buttermilk into a third bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Set up your dipping station: the chicken pieces, one bowl of coating, bowl of buttermilk, the second bowl of coating.
  5. To coat, dip and fully coat a piece of chicken in the first bowl of coating, shake off excess, then dip into the buttermilk, let excess buttermilk drip off, put into the second bowl of coating. Remove from bowl and do not shake off excess coating. The extra coating will help create the crispiness.

For Frying:

  1. Coat the thighs and legs first and lower into hot oil carefully. Be sure not to crowd the chicken. Do this step in two batches, if necessary. Fry for about 1 minute and then carefully move the chicken pieces around in oil to prevent them from burning on the bottom. Continue to fry, monitoring the oil temperature and turning the pieces as necessary for cooking, for about 8-10 minutes until the chicken is deep golden brown.
  2. Transfer the fried chicken pieces skin side up onto the cooling rack.  Season with fine sea salt.
  3. Heat of the oil to 340°F to fry the breasts and wings. Coat the chicken breasts and wings as directed above. Place the pieces carefully into hot oil and again be sure not crowd them into the pot. Fry in multiple batches if necessary. Fry the wings and breasts for about 6 to 8 minutes and until they are deep golden brown. Again, be sure to turn the pieces often to prevent burning. Transfer them to cooling rack skin side up and season with fine sea salt. Remove the oil from the heat.
  4. Add the rosemary and thyme sprigs to the oil while it is still hot and let them fry for a few seconds. Remove from oil and place onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Separate the leaves from the sprigs and sprinkle the leaves over the chicken. Let the chicken cool for about 10 minutes in total from the time it was removed from the oil. This resting time will allow the chicken to cool off so it is no too hot to eat.

Chef’s Tips:

  • We recommend using all peanut oil or a mixture of half canola oil and half peanut oil. Peanut oil provides superior flavor and it makes the chicken crispier.
  • Be sure to stir the chicken frequently in the oil to prevent burning.
  • Fried chicken is best fresh, however if you wish to enjoy it later, place the chicken on a dish in a single layer covered loosely and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 20-30 minutes and until the chicken is heated through and crisp.