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Perfect Fried Chicken

Cook dark meat, which takes a bit longer, apart from white meat to ensure doneness. Small chickens called fryers, about 3 pounds, are tender and best for frying. Make sure to use kosher salt in this recipe; if you measure with table salt, it will be too salty.

  • servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 6 cups nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup plus 5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup Tabasco Sauce, (optional)
  • 2 two- to three-pound chickens, each cut into 8 pieces for frying
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 pounds vegetable shortening
  • 6 tablespoons bacon drippings, (optional)

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Combine buttermilk, 1/4 cup salt, and Tabasco sauce, if using, in a large, airtight container. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat in the liquid. Cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

  2. Step 2

    Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Combine flour, remaining 5 teaspoons salt, black and cayenne peppers, and baking powder in a brown paper bag. Shake vigorously.

  3. Step 3

    One at a time, place chicken pieces in the bag, and shake to coat. Place coated pieces on a clean plate or tray. Heat vegetable shortening (and bacon drippings, if using) in two 10-inch cast-iron skillets over medium-low heat. Using a frying thermometer to measure temperature, bring shortening to 375 degrees. It should be at a medium, not a rolling, boil.

  4. Step 4

    Use tongs to place thighs and drumsticks in skillets. Fry until coating is dark golden on bottom, 10 to 14 minutes; then, using tongs, turn chicken over. Cook until coating is dark golden, another 10 to 14 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh should register 170 degrees.

  5. Step 5

    Drain on brown paper bags or several layered paper towels. Transfer cooked pieces to baking sheets, and place in the oven to keep warm while frying remaining chicken. Using a slotted spoon, remove any bits of coating left in skillets, and discard. Place breasts and wings in skillets. Cook 10 to 14 minutes on each side. Drain on brown paper bags. Remove dark meat from oven, and serve.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, July/August 1999

Reviews (16)

  • 29 Apr, 2013

    this recipe is my" go to" fried chicken! and the especially well detailed method if followed, is TRULY perfect . I dont always have ready jar of bacon drippings in my fridge, so i substitute a mesquite smoked kosher salt for the kosher salt given in this recipe with equally great results,,,

  • 23 Feb, 2013

    I got this recipe several years ago and it truly is the perfect fried chicken.

  • 14 May, 2010

    Also comes in powder form which I find simpler, and then I have it on hand when needed.

  • 11 Mar, 2010

    You can by buttermilk in Australia - check diary section of your local supermarket

  • 8 Sep, 2009

    karenls, buttermilk is sour milk. put 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup and fill to one cup with milk. stir gently and let sit for 5 minutes. hope this helps.

  • 8 Sep, 2009

    karenls, buttermilk is sour milk. put 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup and fill to one cup with milk. stir gently and let sit for 5 min. the acid in the buttermilk tenderizes the chicken. delish! hope this helps.

  • 25 Apr, 2009

    I am from Australia, what is buttermilk? Never heard of it, can you make it yourself?

  • 15 Mar, 2009

    I've never used tobasco sauce in my fried chicken but I'm going to be brave and try it. Here goes.

  • 14 Jun, 2008

    The buttermilk serves as an acidic marinating liquid to tenderize the bird, inhance flavor and work with the flour to make the coating crisp. It is especially good for picnics because the coating stays crispy even when served at room temperature. Thanks , sugarfan, for asking because I love learning new stuff and went to look it up! One recipe suggests using plain all-natural yogurt stirred until creamy instead.

  • 14 Jun, 2008

    The buttermilk serves as an acidic marinating liquid to tenderize the bird, inhance flavor and work with the flour to make the coating crisp. It is especially good for picnics because the coating stays crispy even when served at room temperature. Thanks , sugarfan, for asking because I love learning new stuff and went to look it up! One recipe suggests using plain all-natural yogurt stirred until creamy instead.

  • 13 Jun, 2008

    this recipe is similar to Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay and Alton Brown. I find them a little salty but my husband liked it. AB makes especial mention NOT to drain on paper towel or bags and the temp is only 325! Even the experts can't agree what's perfect. My favorite fried chicken is in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Also called "Perfect Fried Chicken". I always end up coming back to it. :)

  • 13 Jun, 2008

    this recipe is similar to Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay and Alton Brown. I find them a little salty but my husband liked it. AB makes especial mention NOT to drain on paper towel or bags and the temp is only 325! Even the experts can't agree what's perfect. My favorite fried chicken is in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Also called "Perfect Fried Chicken". I always end up coming back to it. :)

  • 10 Jun, 2008

    Is it really necesary to marinate the chicken in buttermilk? what does it do to it?

  • 5 Jun, 2008

    I made this and my husband said it better than that kfc stuff. LOL
    I think i would reduce the salt in the recipe. I did use the kosher salt.
    Also it was very easy to cook just half of the recipe. It turn out just like the photo, but i forgot to take a picture because we were to busy eatting it, LOL.

  • 22 May, 2008

    im wondering if turkey cutlets would be good...? ive got that in my fridge (thinking for tmrw's dinner w/o having to go to the store...)

  • 28 Mar, 2008

    This is the best southern fried chicken recipe ever. As usual, it can be simplified and still be "a good thing." I never use the tabasco, the buttermilk soaking time can be reduced and the bacon drippings are optional. For those of us who are short on time, chicken tenderloin cuts are wonderful to use instead of a whole chicken.