Homemade fried chicken is the ultimate comfort food, perfect for a casual picnic or Sunday dinner.
To fry chicken, start with the meatiest parts of the bird -- the drumsticks, thighs, and/or breasts.
Step 1: Coat the chicken with liquid
For tender, richly flavored chicken, use buttermilk for your coating. (You can also use regular milk or eggs, if that's what you have on hand.) Here's how to do it:
In a resealable plastic bag set in a bowl, combine 3 cups buttermilk, 1/3 cup coarse salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Cut chicken breasts in half crosswise. Add chicken pieces to the buttermilk mixture; seal bag. Chill for 2 to 4 hours. Drain and discard buttermilk mixture from chicken; pat chicken dry with paper towels.
-- In a large bowl combine 2 cups flour, 1/3 cup salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.
-- Place 3/4 cup buttermilk in a shallow dish.
-- Coat the drained chicken with the flour mixture.
-- Dip chicken in the buttermilk.
-- Coat again with the flour mixture.
-- In a heavy Dutch oven or a deep-fat fryer, heat 1-1/2 inches of oil to 350 degrees F.
-- Using tongs, carefully add a few pieces of chicken to oil. (Oil temperature will drop; maintain it at 350 degrees F).
-- Fry chicken for 12 to 15 minutes or until coating is golden and chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F internal temperature for breasts; 180 degrees F for thighs and drumsticks), turning once.
-- Drain chicken on paper towels.
-- Keep fried chicken warm in a 300 degrees F oven while frying remaining chicken.
Spicy Fried Chicken: Prepare as above, except add 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper to the flour mixture.
Pecan Fried Chicken: Prepare as above, except reduce the flour to 1-1/4 cups and add 3/4 cup ground pecans to the flour mixture.
-The absolute best fried chicken begins with one simple ingredient, buttermilk. Before the cooking even starts, marinate the chicken pieces and buttermilk anywhere from 2 to 24 hours for incredible flavor. The soak in buttermilk does 2 things. First, the buttermilk's thick clingy texture provides plenty of sticking power for the coating, resulting in an unbelievably crisp crust and it's that crust that helps seal in the moisture, giving you juicy fried chicken. And second, the buttermilk's acidity helps tenderize the chicken and then parts a distinct flavor the same way it makes biscuits and pancakes taste so good. So, if you want the absolute best friend chicken, a buttermilk bath is just the ticket.