Fried chicken doesn’t sound fearless, does it? You must remember, Home Eccers, that I live in a part of the country where grown men will fight over whose Meemaw had the best recipe for any number of meals. For that reason, I have been shy about posting some of my favorite recipes, but no more. After all, that is why I started Fearless Friday. I will now boldly post recipes, knowing some will read them and say, “That’s not how my grandma did it.” Well, if you didn’t take time to learn from your grandmother, I’m sorry, my version will have to do until you can pester the -ahem- right version out of someone who did listen to Grandma.
Have you been brave in the kitchen? Please feel free to share your Fearless Friday feats or failures either by linking your blog post or telling us your story in the comments. Don’t be shy about failures. They encourage others more than you may realize. We live in a funny world where sometimes our most intimate relationships form online. This is fine when we’re supportive, but there is a danger in the fact that it’s too easy to hide the imperfections, photoshop away the flaws, and only present the best, all the while our own insecurities grow as we see others seeming to move perfectly through difficult and frustrating circumstances. That’s enough of that; apparently I have a few things on my mind. Let’s get started!
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
- 3 – 5lbs leg quarters
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 recipe frying dredge
- 1 tsp salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 3 cups peanut oil* (exact amount may vary depending on the size of your pan)
*Peanut oil is my favorite, but feel free to use vegetable or whatever floats your boat.
I’m going to warn you, 5lbs is a lot of drumsticks and thighs. But if you go to the trouble of frying chicken, you might as well fry up a little extra to enjoy later on in the week. I don’t know why, but I believe one of life’s greatest pleasures is a picnic of leftover fried chicken.
First, separate the thighs from the drumsticks. To do this, grasp the the thigh in one hand, the drumstick in the other and bend the leg in the wrong direction. The knee joint will separate. Then use a sharp knife, to cut through the leg through the space you just created. While you have the knife out, trim any excess fat off the thigh.
5 lbs of chicken fills two 9×13 pans in a single layer.
Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt (1/2 tsp per pan) over the chicken. Then give each pan a few good turns of fresh ground pepper. Add about 1/2 cup of buttermilk to each pan and place the pans in the refrigerator.
It doesn’t matter exactly how long the chicken marinates, but it should get at least an hour in the fridge. If it’s going to be in the fridge for a long time, grab some tongs and turn the pieces at some point. I have no proof this actually changes anything, but it feels right.
About 90 minutes before you plan on cooking dinner, take the pans of chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature.
There are two secrets to great fried chicken: marinate it in buttermilk and NEVER fry cold chicken.
While your chicken is acclimating, mix up the frying dredge. There are as many variations of frying dredge as there are combinations of cereals, crackers, instant potatoes, etc. This one is an excellent, basic mix. Feel free to use anything from corn flakes to Cheez-Its, it’s your chicken. Just know this one works well, if you need a place to start.
Frying Dredge Recipe
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose or plain flour
- 3 – 4 tsps salt
- 3 tsps fresh ground pepper (if you don’t have fresh ground use significantly more black pepper, unless you hate pepper, then don’t)
In a 12″ skillet that has a lid, heat 3 cups of peanut oil to 325F. If you don’t have a thermometer (and I broke mine recently) this is typically on the lower range medium heat. For those with numbers, 4ish. Lower the heat if your first batch of chicken is too dark. It may take a little experimenting. Oil takes a while to heat, be patient. If you try to fry before the oil is hot your chicken will be very greasy. Bleh.
Turn the oven to 200F to hold the chicken until it’s time to serve the meal. Line a serving platter or a couple plates with several paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
Grab a piece of chicken from the buttermilk, give it a shake to get rid of any excess moisture, then toss it in the dredge. Roll it around so it is evenly coated with the flour mixture, then pick up the piece of the chicken and shake off any clumps. We don’t want a lot of extra flour in the frying oil.
Carefully place your chicken, skin side down if it’s a thigh, in the skillet. Repeat with 2 – 3 more pieces, but do not overcrowd the pan. Did you pay attention to that? Put too many pieces in and you’ll lower the temperature of your oil and have greasy chicken. Bleh. Don’t do that.
Now a timer just may be your best friend. Cover the chicken and fry for six minutes.
Safety Tip: Water and oil = spatter. Remove the lid carefully, do not drip condensation into the oil.
Turn the pieces over. Cover. Fry for six more minutes. Fry for an additional 2 – 3 minutes on each side (covered). Remove from the pan, allowing the excess oil to drip, then place the chicken in the oven on the paper towels.
A word of caution. Beware of stray baby jaguars while carrying plates of chicken. . .