WHY IT WORKS
- An intensely flavored buttermilk brine tenderizes the chicken while keeping it moist.
- Adding wet ingredients to the dry flour coating ensures an extra-craggy crust with lots of nooks and crannies.
- Starting in hot fat and finishing in the oven gives you fried chicken with a crisp crust and evenly cooked meat.
for me, as a kid growing up in New York, fried chicken came from one place, and one place only: those grease-stained cardboard buckets peddled by the Colonel himself. But times have changed, and as is often the case, revisiting those fond childhood memories results only in disappointment and disillusionment. That said, stylistically, it can’t be faulted. So I figured that I could somehow manage to take what the Colonel started and bring it to its ultimate conclusion—that is, deep chicken flavor; a flab-free skin; juicy, tender meat; and crisp, spicy coating—I might just be able to recapture those first fleeting childhood tastes of fried chicken as I remembered them. Here’s the result of my efforts.
4. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the shortening or oil to 425°F in a 12-inch straight-sided cast-iron chicken fryer or a large wok over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain the temperature, being careful not to let the fat get any hotter.
5.One piece at a time, transfer the coated chicken to a fine-mesh strainer and shake to remove excess flour. Transfer to a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Once all the chicken pieces are coated, place skin side down in the pan. The temperature should drop to 300°F; adjust the heat to maintain the temperature at 300°F for the duration of the cooking. Fry the chicken until it’s a deep golden brown on the first side, about 6 minutes; do not move the chicken or start checking for doneness until it has fried for at least 3 minutes, or you may knock off the coating. Carefully flip the chicken pieces with tongs and cook until the second side is golden brown, about 4 minutes longer.
6.Transfer chicken to a clean wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, season lightly with salt, and place in the oven. Bake until thickest part of breast pieces registers 150°F (65.5°C) on an instant-read thermometer, and thigh/drumstick pieces register 165°F (74°C), 5 to 10 minutes; remove chicken pieces as they reach their target temperature, and transfer to a second wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, or a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately—or, for extra-crunchy fried chicken, proceed to step 7.
7.Place the plate of cooked chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight. When ready to serve, reheat the oil to 400°F. Add the chicken pieces and cook, flipping them once halfway through cooking, until completely crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet to drain, then serve immediately.