Summer and fried chicken go hand-in-hand, but it’s gotta be GREAT fried chicken, you know? It’s imperative that it not be soggy or chewy, but rather crispy and flavorful. Chef Art Smith, of Southern Art, offers his own delicious take on this quintessential Southern favorite. Today, he shares with us his amazing recipe for buttermilk fried chicken (gluten-free ingredients are offered, too), and you have ample time to perfect it before the upcoming July 4 holiday, which is perhaps the most fried chicken-y day of the year!
Art Smith’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken
For the brine:
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 gallon cold water, divided
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
For the chicken:
- 2 whole chickens, cut into 10 pieces each
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 6 large eggs
For the egg wash:
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
For the dredge:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
- 3 cups self-rising flour (I use White Lily flour, or gluten-free flour)
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- Canola oil for frying
To prepare the brine: In a large soup kettle, dissolve the salt in 2 cups water over medium-high heat. Add the remaining water, stirring to blend in the salt. Add the black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves and bay leaves.
To prepare the chicken: Place the chicken pieces in the brine and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl. Remove the chicken from the brine and submerge in the buttermilk. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
To prepare the egg wash: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, hot sauce, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper. Drain the chicken from the buttermilk and place it in the bowl with the egg wash. Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the egg wash.
To prepare the dredge: Mix together the all-purpose and self-rising flours, garlic and onion powders, 1 Tablespoon salt, paprika, cayenne and thyme in a large glass dish. Add more salt if needed. Remove 2 pieces of chicken at a time from the egg wash, letting the excess liquid drain off. Roll in the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess flour and place the chicken on a wire rack until ready to fry. (It is crucial that any excess flour is shaken off before frying the chicken.) Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
To fry the chicken: Pour canola oil into a large cast-iron pan to a depth of 1 inch and heat over medium heat until it registers 325 ̊ F on a deep frying thermometer. Place 4 to 6 pieces of chicken into the oil. Take care to use long tongs to move the chicken and do not crowd the pan. Turn each piece about every 2 minutes. If the chicken begins to darken, turn the flame on the stove down slightly to adjust the temperature. Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 ̊ F. Be sure to give the oil 5 minutes to return to the proper temperature before dropping in the next batch of chicken. Place the fried chicken on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil and keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
Assembly: Place the fried chicken on two large serving platters and serve.
Learn more about Art Smith and Southern Art at southernart.com.
Thanks to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for today’s great photos.