Fried chicken is an art. I'm talking about the extra-crispy-on-the-outside-super-moist-and-flavorful-on-the-inside version of fried chicken. My hunt this week for a recipe that fit that bill took me through dozens of vintage and church cookbooks, classics like Betty Crocker and Fannie Farmer as well as recipes from some of America's top chefs. With every recipe I perused, I discovered two common denominators: If you want moist and flavorful chicken on the inside, soak it for at least 8 hours to overnight in a buttermilk brine. The crispiness on the outside is the result of coating the chicken pieces with flour and then frying them in hot, hot oil (at least 350 degrees.) Along the way I discovered a few more fried chicken cooking tips that would help bring about delicious results. First, never drain your fried chicken on a paper towel or napkin. That makes the chicken soggy. Instead, place the fried chicken pieces on a cookie or oven rack placed in a shallow baking sheet and finish cooking them in the oven for about 20 minutes. That does two things. It keeps the chicken crispy and it assures that the chicken is cooked all the way through. I call my new found knowledge "poultry preparedness" and with that, I wasn't chicken anymore to tackle the task.
Golden Fried Chicken
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning (or poultry seasoning of your choice)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons Hungarian (or sweet) paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 8 chicken pieces (approximately 4 lb. of chicken)
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 4 cups flour
- 2 quarts corn oil or vegetable shortening
- 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper, combined
- In a bowl, mix together Old Bay Seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne, stirring until well combined.
- Divide mixture half.
- In a large bowl, stir one half of the spice mixture with buttermilk and whisk to combine.
- Add chicken to the buttermilk brine, completely coating and covering chicken pieces.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
- When ready to fry, pull chicken out of the refrigerator and let sit for about 45 minutes to come up to room temperature. (Leave chicken in brine)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Combine flour with remainder of spice mix and place in a large shallow baking dish.
- In a deep pot, heat oil to 350 degrees.
- Dredge chicken pieces through flour mixture until well coated.
- Gently shake off excess flour.
- With tongs, drop chicken into hot oil and fry for about 8 minutes or until deep golden brown. (May be done in batches)
- With tongs, gently remove chicken pieces from oil and place them on a rack set on a baking sheet.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper combination lightly over fried chicken pieces.
- Place baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes.
- Test chicken for doneness. Internal temperature should be 180 degrees.