Ultimate crispy fried chicken

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Executive Chef
Jun 3, 2004

Serves 4 to 6
Maintaining an even oil temperature is key to the success of this recipe. An
instant-read thermometer with a high upper range is perfect for checking the
temperature; a clip-on candy/deep-fry thermometer is fine, though it can be
clipped to the pot only for the uncovered portion of frying.
11/4 cups kosher salt or1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons table salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
3 medium garlic heads, cloves separated
3 bay leaves, crumbled
2 quarts low-fat buttermilk
1 whole chicken (about 3½ pounds), giblets discarded, cut into 12 pieces
(see illustrations, below)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3–4 cups refined peanut oil or vegetable shortening
1. In large zipper-lock plastic bag, combine salt, sugar, paprika, garlic
cloves, and bay leaves. With rubber mallet or flat meat pounder, smash
garlic into salt and spice mixture thoroughly. Pour mixture into large
plastic container or nonreactive stockpot. Add 7 cups buttermilk and stir
until salt is completely dissolved. Immerse chicken and refrigerate until
fully seasoned, 2 to 3 hours. Remove chicken from buttermilk brine and shake
off excess; place in single layer on large wire rack set over rimmed baking
sheet. Refrigerate uncovered for 2 hours. (After 2 hours, chicken can be
covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 6 hours longer.)
2. Measure flour into large shallow dish. Beat egg, baking powder, and
baking soda in medium bowl; stir in remaining 1 cup buttermilk (mixture will
bubble and foam). Working in batches of 3, drop chicken pieces in flour and
shake pan to coat. Shake excess flour from each piece, then, using tongs,
dip chicken pieces into egg mixture, turning to coat well and allowing
excess to drip off. Coat chicken pieces with flour again, shake off excess,
and return to wire rack.
3. Adjust oven rack to middle position, set second wire rack over second
rimmed baking sheet, and place on oven rack; heat oven to 200 degrees. Line
large plate with double layer paper towels. Meanwhile, heat oil (oil should
have 21/2-inch depth in pan) to 375 degrees over medium-high heat in large
8-quart cast-iron Dutch oven with a diameter of about 12 inches. Place half
of chicken pieces skin-side down in oil, cover, reduce heat to medium, and
fry until deep golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes; after about 3 minutes, lift
chicken pieces with tongs to check for even browning; rearrange if some
pieces are browning faster than others. (Spot-check oil temperature; after
first 6 minutes of frying, oil should be about 325 degrees. Adjust burner if
necessary.) Turn chicken pieces over and continue to fry, uncovered, until
chicken pieces are deep golden brown on second side, 6 to 8 minutes longer.
Using tongs, transfer chicken to paper towel lined plate; let stand 2
minutes to drain, then transfer to rack in warm oven. Replace paper
towel lining on plate. Return oil to 375 degrees and fry remaining pieces,
transferring pieces to paper towel–lined plate to drain, then transferring
to wire rack with other chicken pieces. Cool chicken pieces on wire rack
about 5 minutes and serve.
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