Can you believe that I've lived in the south for 10 years now and had never made fried chicken until last week?! Crazy, huh? I grew up on it, even if I was in California. I remember that my great grandmother used to make it for us for Sunday lunches at her house, along with her famous potato salad and other fresh vegetables. I finally decided to try my hand at it last week when our local butcher had some lovely thighs and drumsticks in. And we weren't disappointed...I made a ton, so we feasted on it all week. I think that this week, though, we'll have to make up for it by eating salads for dinner. :-)
This recipe takes some hands-off time, but is really simple. I used smoked paprika, but you could substitute other herbs and spices to make this recipe your own.
Smoked Paprika Fried Chicken
adapted from Everyday Food
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
2 Tbl smoked paprika, separated
1 quart buttermilk
3-4 lbs. chicken pieces (I used thighs, legs, and boneless skinless chicken breasts.)
3 cups vegetable oil
In a pie plate, mix the flour, cornstarch, one teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and one tablespoon of smoked paprika. Transfer about 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to an airtight container and set aside. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, whisk the buttermilk, one tablespoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper and one tablespoon of smoked paprika. Dip the chicken pieces into the flour in the pie pan, covering completely, but lightly, and then submerge in the buttermilk mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least three hours or up to overnight.
When you are ready to fry the chicken, place a wire cooling rack over paper towels. In a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet or pot, heat the oil to 350 degrees F over medium heat. (A small cube of bread should brown in less than one minute.) Transfer the reserved flour mixture to a clean pie pan. In batches, remove the chicken from the buttermilk, letting the excess drip off a little, and dredge in the flour mixture.
Fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes per batch, turning once. If it browns too quickly, turn the heat down slightly. When the chicken is done, transfer to the wire rack to cool at least five minutes.
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