Recently at dinner my father instructed me, “tell your website readers that your dad says this is a good one.” Done, dad. This chicken was good – perfectly tender, well flavored, crunchy – just what one wants in fried chicken.
Searching around for a buttermilk fried chicken recipe, I adapted this recipe from various sources. Many recipes I found seemed to be rather dated as they called for frying the chicken in vegetable shortening. Most shortenings on the market have transfats in them, which we now know are very bad for us. We do our frying, of anything, in grape seed oil, which as the name implies, comes from the seeds of grapes. It is a high smoke-point oil, which means that you can get it pretty hot before it begins to burn, making it perfect for deep frying. It also has many known health benefits (see the Wikipedia citation). The recipes also called for frying the chicken in a cast iron frying pan. We love our cast iron pans, but they tend to be quite heavy, and retain heat so well, that if you have a problem and have to lower the heat rapidly, you won’t be able to do it. Anodized aluminum can also take the heat without warping, but will be more responsive for heating and cooling. (I’ve started a kitchen fire with peanut oil in a cast iron skillet – not fun – if it ever happens to you, remove the pan from the heat element, and cover it quickly with a lid.)
- 1 (3 pound) fryer (see Wikipedia on the difference between broilers, fryers, and roasting birds), cut into pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, thyme) or a teaspoon each of the dried herbs.
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups grapeseed oil, or other high smoke-point oil such as canola oil, or peanut oil
1 Soak chicken overnight (at least 8 hours and up to two days) in buttermilk with onions, herbs, paprika, and cayenne pepper. (Regarding the use of buttermilk, my mother has had good results from soaking chicken in plain yogurt instead of buttermilk.)
2 Drain in colander, leaving some herbs on chicken. In a large paper or plastic (sturdy) bag, mix flour with seasonings. Meanwhile, heat 2 cups oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron, stainless steel, or anodized aluminum - something that can take the heat) on medium high heat until a pinch of flour starts to sizzle when dropped in the hot oil (but not so hot that the pan is smoking). Remember when working with hot oil, always have a pan lid close by.
3 Place chicken pieces in bag with flour and shake until thoroughly coated. Add chicken to hot pan and fry on 1 side for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown, and then use tongs to turn the pieces over and fry for another 10-12 minutes, again until golden brown.
Be careful to keep the oil hot enough to fry the chicken, but not so high as it burns the chicken. To do this on our electric stove we have to alternate the settings between high to medium high several times while we are cooking.
4 Use tongs to remove chicken from pan. Place on a rack over a cookie sheet or broiling pan for the excess oil to drain. Add more salt and pepper to taste.