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Buttermilk-Brined Southern Fried Chicken

Buttermilk-Brined Southern Fried Chicken


For the Brine:

  • 1 cup water

  • ½ cup white vinegar

  • ¼ cup kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • A couple cups ice

  • Double-lined (stack one inside another) 2-gallon zip-top plastic food storage bags

  • 1 quart buttermilk

  • A few stems fresh sage

  • A few stems fresh thyme

  • A few stems fresh rosemary

  • 3 large bay leaves

  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed or coarsely chopped (about 1 bulb)

  • 12 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken: 4 legs, 4 thighs, and 4 pieces breast, cut in half horizontally

For the Spiced Flour:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3 tablespoons ground white pepper

  • 2 tablespoons paprika

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons ground mustard

  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic

  • 2 tablespoons granulated onion

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, ground

  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme, ground

  • 1 tablespoon dried sage, ground

  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger

  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, crushed

For the Batter:

  • 1 pint buttermilk

  • 2 large eggs

  • Frying oil, about 2½ quarts for a deep cast-iron skillet or 3 to 4 quarts for deep-fry pot

  • Deep-fry thermometer

To serve:

  • Hot sauce

  • Hot honey


For the brine, in a small pot, heat water, vinegar, salt and sugar to dissolve and combine. When it comes to a low boil, remove from heat and add a few cups of ice to melt. Add the mixture to double-lined bags balanced in a large bowl, add a quart of buttermilk, herbs, bay leaves and garlic. Add chicken to the brine, remove excess air, seal, and refrigerate the chicken 12 to 24 hours.

Remove the chicken pieces, draining off excess brine, to a rack-lined rimmed baking sheet. Discard brine.

Whisk up spiced flour in large bowl and batter in medium bowl.

Set up another rack-lined tray.

Dredge chicken and double coat in flour, then batter, then flour again and arrange on tray. Let stand or refrigerate for 1 hour for chicken to adhere and expand the crust mixture.

Heat oil to 350˚F and fry chicken in small batches, about 12 minutes until 160˚F on an instant-read thermometer. Drain on clean rack-lined sheet pan.

Serve chicken with hot sauce, hot honey, slaw or salad of choice, and warm biscuits to pass.