Chef Gillian Clark of the General Store in Silver Spring says two things are key: using fresh chicken and soaking the pieces in the buttermilk mixture, which tenderizes and adds flavor to the meat. The oil-butter combo for frying gives the skin nice flavor, too.
Make Ahead: The chicken needs to soak in the buttermilk mixture for at least 2 hours. This chicken reheats well: Place it on a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet, then place the sheet on the oven floor for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Watch closely to keep the chicken from burning.
Servings: 4 - 8
- 1 quart buttermilk (can use low-fat)
- 6 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cup hot pepper sauce, preferably Tabasco
- 1 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces (wing tips removed)
- 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, for frying
- 4 cups flour
- 4 tablespoons sea or kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine the buttermilk, garlic and hot pepper sauce in a large bowl or container. Add the chicken pieces and let them soak for at least 2 hours.
Heat the oil and butter in a deep pot or deep, large skillet over medium heat until the foaming of the melted butter starts to subside; it will be noisy as it heats up.
Sift together the flour, salt and pepper on a wide, shallow plate.
Pull the pieces of chicken out of the buttermilk one at a time and coat lightly in the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess; then, working in batches as needed, carefully add the chicken pieces to the oil-butter mixture; they should bubble vigorously on contact. Fry for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, turning over the fattiest pieces of chicken halfway through the cooking. Turn the other pieces over as needed. Discard the buttermilk mixture.
To gauge doneness, use a sharp knife to pierce a thigh or drumstick; juices should run clear. Or you can use an instant-read thermometer: 170 to 175 for light meat and 180 degrees for dark meat.
Adapted from Clark's "Out of the Frying Pan" (St. Martin's Press, 2007).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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