Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Brining the chicken first in buttermilk tenderizes and adds a bit of flavor. Frying in very hot oil, lard or beef tallow gets the perfect crunchy crust.

Brine:

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, the breasts cut in half

1 quart buttermilk

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 teaspoons salt

Dredge:

2 cups white flour

1 tablsepoon salt

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

freshly ground pepper

1 to 2 quarts lard, from pastured pigs, rendered beef tallow, or peanut oil for frying

Mix 2 tablespoons salt, a bit of hot sauce, and fresh ground pepper with buttermilk. Place chicken pieces in a large pan, and cover with brine. Marinate in the fridge overnight.

Mix flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and spices in a large paper bag, like the kind you get from the grocery store. If you don’t have one, a big bowl is ok.

Heat lard in a heavy pan, preferably cast iron, over medium high heat. You want a depth of 2 inches of fat, preferably.

When ready to fry, pull the chicken from the bag, shake off excess buttermilk, then drop the chicken pieces in the plastic bag and shake up to coat.

Check oil temperature. When it reaches 350, you’re ready to fry! Using tongs, carefully place breaded chicken pieces in hot oil. Turn heat to medium and cook until internal temperature of the thick part of the meat reaches 160. It helps to fry the thighs and drumsticks first, as they take a while to cook. Turn occasionally to keep from burning. Make sure oil comes back to temperature before adding the second batch, and add more lard as necessary.

Place chicken pieces on a wire rack to drain. Enjoy.

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