Buttermilk Fried Chicken

 

2
chickens, about 3 pounds each, cut into serving pieces with each
breast half cut in half or 2 to 3 pounds boneless, skinless
chicken breasts
  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4
cups buttermilk
1 1/2
tablespoons hot sauce or to taste
4
cups all purpose flour
3
tablespoons dried thyme
3
tablespoons dried sage
3
tablespoons coarse black pepper
1
tablespoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
3
tablespoons kosher salt, or to taste
6
cups vegetable shortening or vegetable oil

 

 

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, add the buttermilk and hot sauce, stir, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

 

Place the flour, thyme, sage, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt in a large bowl.  Taste it.  The mixture should have a good peppery-herb flavor and be slightly salty. 

 

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, coat one piece at a time with the flour mixture, and place the coated pieces on a sheet pan. (The best way is to pick up a chicken piece with your left hand, let the excess liquid drain, place the chicken piece in the flour mixture switch to your right hand to coat the chicken, shake off any excess flour, and place the piece on a sheet pan.)  Repeat until all the chicken is coated.

 

Using a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and a deep-fry thermometer, bring half the shortening to 350 degrees over high heat.  Cook the chicken pieces in three batches to avoid crowding the pan.  Place the first batch into the hot shortening, making sure the oil keeps bubbling, even as the temperature falls a bit, and that the chicken pieces are not touching.  Fry for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the pieces are an even golden brown on one side.  Turn the pieces and cook for 7 to 8 minutes more, or until done.  Place the cooked chicken on a wire rack with a sheet pan underneath, and repeat with the second batch of chicken.  After the second batch, discard the hot fat into a safe container, wipe the pan with a paper towel, add the remaining shortening and cook the third batch. 

 

Buy the smallest possible chickens, which may be heavier than 3 pounds.  If they are, adjust the cooking time accordingly. 

 

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

Note:  I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each half cut in half.  I use vegetable oil instead of shortening.  Be sure temperature is correct.