The way people fuss about homemade fried chicken you’d think it involved raising the chicken yourself, naming it, and developing a close personal relationship with it before bare-handedly slaughtering it in your bathtub.
I expect that this is going to be one of those recipes that very few people actually attempt, mostly because of the perceived treachery that surrounds frying. While this speech probably won’t convince you if you have a well-established case of F.O.F. (Fear Of Frying), let me briefly say that frying is actually an incredibly simple task that has just been blown out of proportion on the difficulty scale of home cooking skills. For god’s sake, if Guy Fieri – the human equivalent of a troll living under a drawbridge – can do it, so can you. Stop being horrified by the quantity of oil that gets used, get yourself a candy/cooking thermometer, and have at ‘er.
BA’s Best: Fried Chicken
Taken directly from BA’s Best arsenal, with the most minor of tweaks here and there
Honey Butter “recipe” is my own
**This recipe requires you (or your butcher) to break down a whole chicken. This is actually not as terrifying as it might initially seem and gives you something to boast about should you manage to accomplish it. Your butcher should also be able to do this for you, but of course you could also always buy the equivalent of a whole chicken (bone-in, skin-on pairs of breasts, thighs, legs, and wings).
2 tbsp kosher salt, divided
2 tsp + 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet; I used sweet)
¾ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
1 4-lb chicken, cut into pairs of breasts, thighs, legs, wings (8 pieces total)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
Peanut oil, for frying (at least 1 L)
¼ cup runny honey
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 slices Texas toast (or thick-cut white bread)
Pickles (sweet or sour)
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp kosher salt, 2 tsp black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder. Season the chicken pieces all over with this spice mixture. Place in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.
The next day, let the chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and ½ cup cold water. In a large, shallow baking dish, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and the remaining 1 tbsp kosher salt and 1 tbsp black pepper.
Pour the peanut oil into a 10-12 inch cast-iron skillet until a depth of ¾ - 1 inch is reached. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a candy/frying thermometer registers 350 degrees F. It is imperative that you have a candy thermometer for this task. Seriously guys, they’re super cheap and let you fry ALL THE TIME. While the oil heats, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet. Place paper towels on top of the rack.
Working with 1 piece at a time, dip the chicken into the buttermilk mixture, allowing the excess to drip off before dredging in the flour mixture. Tap the flour-coated chicken against the side of the baking dish to shake off any excess flour. Repeat this process with half of the chicken, keeping 1 hand reserved for the wet part and 1 hand reserved for the dry part.
Gently drop 1 piece of chicken at a time into the hot oil until all 4 prepared pieces are submerged. Use tongs to flip the chicken regularly to avoid uneven cooking or dark spots. Keep your candy thermometer in the oil so that you can monitor the temperature and adjust it as needed to stay around 325 degrees F. The chicken should slowly develop a deep golden-brown crust. The wings will take about 10 minutes to cook, with the remaining pieces requiring an extra 2 minutes. It helps to set a timer for 10 minutes and check it periodically to ensure that you’re flipping the pieces every minute or so. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat should read ~165 degrees. It’s better to pull the chicken out, test it, then return it to the oil versus over-cooking the chicken, which will produce not only dry meat but often an acrid, over-browned skin.
Using tongs, remove the cooked chicken from the oil and place on the paper towel-lined rack. Repeat the dredging and cooking process with the remaining chicken pieces. Let the chicken cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
While the chicken cools, prepare the honey butter by combining the honey and soft butter in a small bowl and whisking until smooth and glossy. It’s best to prepare the honey butter at the last minute because it occasionally splits if left out too long. Serve the honey butter with the fried chicken alongside slabs of Texas toast, pickles, and hot sauce. Die of happiness (or of a coronary).