I like fried chicken but it’s not one of those things I think to order when I eat out, so I never really get to eat it. Making it at home has its hurdles. Firstly, deep frying. Getting the temperature right (especially if you don’t have a deep fryer), getting the right oil (I know peanut oil gets a bad rap but boy does it fry nice and crisp!), and, oh yes, cleaning up afterward. The second hurdle, unless you have a big family you don’t want to be stuck with a lot of leftover fried chicken, especially if it didn’t come out great. Third hurdle, buttermilk. Unless you regularly cook with buttermilk, it’s not one of those ingredients you always have on hand so you have to go out of your way to get it.
But recently I had a craving for fried chicken and decided to give this Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken by Grace Parisi on Food & Wine Magazine a try.
Watch the video to see it in action and don’t forget to subscribe below!
The process is actually quite simple. Mix salt, pepper, and cayenne in buttermilk, soak the chicken, dredge the chicken in a flour/spice mixture, and deep fry. Of course it’s the little details that make or break fried chicken.
One, soak time. So the directions say to, “Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate for 4 hours.” I let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours. If you refrigerated it for 4 hours, do you have to take it out and let it come back to room temperature before frying? It does not say, but I wonder if this would be a prudent thing to do since a refrigerated chicken would cook differently, and I hear time and again that meat should rest at room temperature before cooking.
Two, the flour mix. This recipe doesn’t use baking powder which I have seen often in fried chicken recipes. I suppose the baking powder makes it expand a bit allowing for more surface area to fry. It probably also aerates the outside. I however was pretty happy with the way things turned out with this recipe. It was crispy yet substantial. It could just be a matter of taste whether you want some air or not.
Three, the set time after dredging. This was an unexpected step for me. I always thought, dredge, then immediately fry. But these directions say to dredge and let sit on a rack for 30 minutes. It makes sense. It probably allows for the flour mixture to set so that it doesn’t just float off the skin and peel off mid-fry. The fried crust really stuck well and I didn’t have any peeled exposed meat.
And last but not least, the frying temperature. I’m sure this process is a lot easier with a deep fryer that regulates the temperature for you. With my electric stove, the heat reaction time is slow so it took some trial and error to figure out where the dial should be at initial fry (temperature immediately drops), mid-fry (sometimes gets too hot but then drops again when you flip), and end-fry (temperature usually gets too hot). A thermometer is an absolute must to get it right!
All in all, I was very happy with this recipe. It made me more confident in making fried chicken, and I definitely will make it again. To address my aforementioned second hurdle (lots of leftovers between just my husband and myself), I was indeed left with quite a bit of fried chicken. Luckily with my airfryer, I was able to reheat it and have a wonderful crunch whenever I wanted, so the second hurdle isn’t so much of a hurdle anymore. I suspect it can be baked in an oven or toaster oven to similar effect.