Fried Chicken

serves 4

For the brine

3 1/2 to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts

2 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the coating

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 Tablespoons buttermilk

3 cups vegetable shortening, or enough to have 1/2-inch oil in the skillet

Separate the chicken legs into thighs and drumsticks; cut each breast in half diagonally through the bone.  In a medium plastic container with a lid or a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk, salt, and pepper.  Add the chicken, turning to coat well.  Place the lid on the container or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to, but not exceeding, twelve hours.

In another container, whisk together the flour, baking powder, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Drizzle in the buttermilk and stir to form small crumbs.  Remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk mixture and coat well in the flour mixture.  Place the coated chicken on a rack to rest for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.  

Place a deep, heavy skillet or pot with a lid, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat and add the vegetable shortening.  The shortening should measure 1/2-inch in the skillet. Heat the shortening to 350º F on a candy/oil thermometer.  Gently lay a few chicken pieces skin side down in the hot fat and cover.  Cook for 10 minutes, checking after 5 minutes and moving the pieces if they are browning unevenly or too quickly.  (At this point the fat should be bubbling and register between 250º and 300º F on the thermometer.)  Remove the lid and turn the chicken with tongs and cook, uncovered, until the second side is richly browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the chicken to a rack set over a baking sheet to drain.  Chicken can be kept warm in an oven set at the lowest setting or it can be safely held at room temperature for several hours loosely covered with wax paper.  Leftovers must be refrigerated.  Enjoy!

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