When I saw this recipe by Ina Garten, I instantly knew that this had to be the next meal I make for three reasons. One, I had a quart or so of buttermilk in my fridge that was quickly nearing the end of its shelf-life. Two, I really like fried chicken. Three, it’s Ina Garten – enough said.
While I can’t say I don’t like KFC (because I’m bad and I actually really really do), this oven-fried chicken surpasses that of Kentucky any day (my apologies, Kernel Sanders). But surely I’m not alone in this love affair with fried chicken, albeit regulated and restricted to some reasonably understandable degree. If you hadn’t already noticed – which unless you are a first time reader (Welcome!), I don’t know how you wouldn’t know – I have an embarrassingly long list of weaknesses in regards to junk food. I most definitely need to curtail the junk-eating and cut the list down to one page, or a side of a page. Hopefully, down to half a page in the near future. But, until then, let’s happily continue on with this confabulation about fried chicken.
Now, when it comes to fried chicken, I admit I can be picky. I don’t like my chicken too salty, too dry, too oily, yada yada yada. So, what constitutes the perfect fried chicken? It has to be one that is juicy, moist and tender after the initial bite into the impeccably well-seasoned crispy outer coating. Fried chicken-foraging is not an easy task, my friends. I’m sure there are plenty of joints that do it well and do it right, but nothing is as good as doing it right (and doing it your way) right in your own home. Now, this is what you call finger-lickin’ good.
From Barefoot Contessa, 2002
2 chickens (3 pounds each), cut in 8 serving pieces
1 quart buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil or vegetable shortening
Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (This step makes the chicken soft and tender, which is essential to the perfect fried chicken!)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1-inch and heat to 360 degrees F on a thermometer.
Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will continue to brown in the oven). Don’t crowd the pieces. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Allow the oil to return to 360 degrees F before frying the next batch. When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve hot.