Fried chicken has to be in my top three favorite foods, right up there with chocolate and lobster. My aunt used to make it for me when I was little, accompanied by home made french fries, which she would put in a paper bag from the grocery store with a handful of salt after they were fried so I could shake them up until the bag was slick with oil. Yum.
I never made fried chicken until a few years ago as I was somewhat intimidated by the mess of frying, the thermometer, the whole production. I came upon this recipe by Ina Garten where you do a quick fry of the chicken on the stove and finish it off in the oven. It is crisp on the outside and juicy and moist in the inside – wow. I actually like it better cold the next day – this would be a huge winner at a Labor Day pot luck, just remember to to marinade it starting the night before in the buttermilk for the best results.
Fried Chicken (adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten)
2 chickens (3 pounds each), cut in 8 serving pieces
1 quart buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Place the chicken pieces in two gallon-sized zip lock freezer bags and and pour half the buttermilk in each bag. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour, salt, cayenne pepper and pepper in a large bowl. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1-inch and heat to 360 degrees F on a thermometer (I use a candy thermometer).
Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3-5 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will continue to brown in the oven). Don’t crowd the pieces. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow the oil to return to 360 degrees F before frying the next batch. When all the chicken is fried, bake for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside.