Chris's Crispy, Crunchy Fried Chicken
To keep the chicken from becoming too dry, Chris Kimball, author of "The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook" brines the meat in heavily salted water for a few hours before cooking.
- 1/2 cup coarse salt (or 6 tablespoons table salt)
- 1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme or oregano, or a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Peanut oil, for frying
In a large bowl or pot, dissolve 1/2 cup coarse salt in 3 quarts of water. Rinse chicken pieces, and add to bowl. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove chicken pieces, and rinse under cool water. Clear space in the refrigerator to accommodate a wire cooling rack.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, and seasonings, and place in a large resealable plastic bag. Shake. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, then whisk in buttermilk. Dip half the chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture, then place in the plastic bag. Shake, and lay out on a wire rack. Repeat for remaining pieces. Put the rack on a rimmed baking sheet, and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but preferably 2 hours, to set.
Pour peanut oil to a depth of 3/4 inch in a large iron Dutch oven. Place over medium-high heat.
When oil reaches 365 degrees (if you don't have a thermometer, wait until the oil starts to smoke -- very hot oil is fine for this recipe), arrange chicken pieces in the pan, skin side down, and cover. After 5 minutes, remove the cover. Adjust heat level, if necessary, so oil bubbles at a moderate pace -- not too rapidly and not too slowly (medium to medium-high heat is best, depending on the heat conductivity of your pan). Rearrange pieces if some are browning more quickly than others. After 5 more minutes, turn the pieces over. Cook uncovered for 8 to 10 more minutes or until done. Meanwhile, thoroughly wash and dry the wire rack.
Remove the fried chicken to cleaned wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Let drain for 5 minutes, and serve.