Fried Chicken is amazing... or should I say, good fried chicken is amazing. I have not had much luck in the past with fried chicken recipes. The chicken is either dry and overcooked or the coating is burned before the chicken is fully cooked.
Then I met the Pioneer Woman... and she has saved me from any more fried chicken disasters. There are a couple keys to this recipe that make it so wonderful. First is the buttermilk
"bath" that the chicken takes overnight. Second is the milk/buttermilk that is put into the flour mixture that causes the coating to be extra crunchy. Finally, by frying it until brown and then baking it to finish the cooking, it really keeps it from drying out the chicken or over browning the coating.
I made this with corn on the cob and biscuits with honey butter.
Pioneer Woman's Buttermilk Fried Chicken
2 cut-up fryer chickens
1 quart plus 1/4 cup buttermilk
5 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons seasoned salt (like Lawry’s)
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup milk
canola or vegetable oil for frying
1. In a large bowl (or 2 freezer bags) add the chicken with 1 quart buttermilk. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to fry, remove chicken from bowl and let sit on counter for 30 minutes to take chill off.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together the flour, seasoned salt, pepper, thyme, paprika and cayenne in a very large bowl. In a small bowl combine the 1/4 cup buttermilk and the milk. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and use a fork to mix until little lumps throughout.
3. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat to 365F. Working in batches, thoroughly coat each buttermilk-soaked chicken piece with the breading, pressing to adhere the breading. Add the chicken to the oil 3-4 pieces at a time. Cover pan and fry 5-7 minutes, checking to make sure chicken isn’t getting too brown. Turn, cover and cook additional 3-5 minutes more. Monitor temperature of oil to make sure chicken doesn’t burn. Keep in mind chicken will finish cooking in oven.
4. Place chicken on baking sheet and continue frying rest of chicken. When done, bake the chicken for 10-15 minutes, until chicken cooked through.