Buttermilk Fried Chicken (Ad Hoc at Home)

Chicken Brine

3 lemons, quartered
12 bay leaves
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1/4 c honey
1 small head of garlic, halved through the middle
2 tbsp black peppercorns
1 C kosher salt
1 gallon water

Add all ingredients to a large pot; cover; bring to a boil and stir to dissolve salt and honey, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool completely before using.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

5-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, cut in half
2-4 drumsticks
2-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 x chicken brine recipe (above)

3 C AP flour
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Peanut or Canola oil for deep frying
1 quart buttermilk
kosher salt and fresh black pepper

Additional gadgets: meat thermometer (to test chicken doneness) and candy thermometer (to measure oil temperature)

Add all of the chicken pieces to a large pot or plastic bag and cover with cooled chicken brine; place in refrigerator for up to and no more than 12 hours (I only brined for 6 and it was fabulous).

Remove chicken from brine and pat dry - allow to come to room temperature (about 25 minutes) before beginning to fry.

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large pot, heat enough peanut or canola oil so that the oil comes up about 2" high; attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat oil to 320F.

Meanwhile, place all combined dry ingredients in a large baking dish and the buttermilk in another baking dish, setting up a "breading station".

Begin by dredging the chicken pieces in the flour mixture. Add to buttermilk and coat evenly. Then return back to the dry ingredients for a quick last coating; remove chicken from dry ingredients and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

When the oil reaches 320F, add the chicken drumsticks and thighs, 1-2 pieces at a time, carefully monitoring the heat and adjusting the temperature as needed (note: the second the chicken hits the oil, the temperature is going to drop - so you will need to turn the heat up and then watch that it doesn't exceed 320F). Fry for 2 minutes and then turn pieces over in oil using tongs to get a crisp, thorough, golden-brown fry on the outside, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oil and place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Set aside.

Once done with the drumsticks and thighs, raise heat of oil to 340F and begin to add chicken breast pieces, about 2-3 pieces at a time, and repeat procedure as with the drumsticks and thighs. Cook to a golden brown, about 7-9 minutes, and remove from oil and place on same sheet pan with thighs and drumsticks.

Once all chicken has been fried, place sheet pan in the preheated oven until the chicken breasts register about 160F when a meat thermometer is inserted (170F for the drumsticks and thighs), roughly 15 minutes (may be longer). Remove chicken from oven and tent with foil lightly and allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.