I'll admit that fried chicken is not in my wheel house. I grew up with a very European centered cuisine, and while I love BBQ and have mastered other American comfort foods (mac and cheese, meatloaf, pot roast) fried chicken has remained elusive..until now.
It's never come out crispy enough, but I now know the trick, and it's a game changer. So if you want to make easy fried chicken that will rival the Colonel, read on.
I used drumsticks for this because it's what was on sale, $4 for enough chicken to feed a crowd, (not that there was one...Covid and all), but I'm planning to experiment in the future with different cuts of meat. If you are using breasts or thighs, be sure to pound them thinner so that they are uniform in size.
This is not a dish you can make on the fly, you have to start the night before.
Step 1: Marinate the chicken overnight (at least 8 hours but 24 is better) in buttermilk. You can buy buttermilk in most grocery stores. If you don't have any, you can make your own using 1 cup milk to 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and letting it sit for 5 minutes. In all honesty though while that substitute works for pancakes and biscuits, I think that using real buttermilk matters here.
If you want to add some flavor you can start infusing it here. You can add a mixture of spices that you like. I added salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder to taste, but you can really do any combo you like. I didn't have a shallot or a spicier pepper, but if I did, I would have added it here.
Submerge all your chicken and pop them into the refrigerator.
Step 2: Create your flour dredge. To 2-3 cups of all purpose flour add one teaspoon each of kosher salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, and seasoned salt. Again, if you prefer a different spice combo, or more/less spice adjust it to your taste. Whisk it all together. I've also added dill in the past and enjoyed it, it just depends on the flavor profile you're going for.
Step 3: Take your chicken out of the fridge and resist the urge to (1) drain the liquid) and (2) pat it dry. Instead take a piece right from the buttermilk and dredge it in the flour.
Now for the magic maker: Take that piece of dredged chicken in your hand and put it back into the buttermilk marinade. Soak it and then put it back into the flour dredge for a second coating.
That my friends is the secret- the double dip!
Do the same with all the remaining chicken.
Step 4: When you're ready to cook, heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a pan until the oil reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit Could you do this in an air fryer or the oven? Yes. However we've already established we're eating fried chicken, so let's just do it the good old fashioned not quite as healthy but super delicious way...mmmkay?
Once your oil is to temp, cook your chicken 2.5 minutes per side until they are crispy golden brown and reach an internal temp of 165 degrees. Don't crowd the pan I suggest doing 2 no more than 3 at a time.
Here's the second super important secret: Salt and season while hot. Place a wire cooling rack on a cookie sheet. As soon as the chicken leaves the oil, place it on the rack and salt and season (whatever you like) both sides. Then keep in the oven while you're cooking the remaining pieces.
Serve hot with mac and cheese and you and your guests will be in heaven! Colonel who?