Fried Chicken just screams summer to me. You can't have summer without picnics and you can't have picnics without some delicious cold fried chicken. (Some biscuits on the side don't hurt either, but that's another post.) I love fried chicken because it's one of the few foods you can really eat at any temperature. As soon as I ate a leftover piece from the fridge, I was ready to grab my picnic basket and a blanket and head to the nearest park. When I realized it was 6:00am on a Monday, I opted to shower and get ready for work instead. (What, don't you eat fried chicken at 6:00 am on Mondays? I do - don't judge.)
I was a little intimidated to make fried chicken myself, because I feel it is in the group of foods that people really expect to be good. I'm so glad I decided to go for it, because it got rave reviews. The coating was crispy and flavorful, while the chicken was moist and also packed with flavor. I'm so glad I added so many spices, because it really made a big impact on the chicken. I can't wait for our next picnic, as I definitely plan to make this soon.
1 chicken (3 pounds), cut into 8 serving pieces
1 quart buttermilk, plus 2 cups
Kosher salt plus freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, divided
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder
Canola oil, for frying
In a large bowl or baking dish, whisk together 1 quart of the buttermilk, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, and a little bit black pepper, if desired. Add the chicken pieces, turn to coat, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Place the remaining 2 cups of buttermilk in a bowl. Stir together the flour, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, and 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Divide flour mixture among 2 shallow platters and season generously with salt and pepper. Drain the chicken in a colander and pat it dry. Dredge the pieces a few at a time in the flour mixture and pat off excess, then dip in the buttermilk and allow excess to drain off. Dredge in the second plate of flour and pat off the excess. Put the chicken pieces on a piece of waxed paper or on a clean platter while you heat the oil.
Pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep cast iron skillet; the oil should not come more than halfway up the sides of the pot. Put the pot over medium-high heat and heat the oil to 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces to the hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time and fry, turning the pieces occasionally, until evenly golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a rack to drain; repeat to cook the remaining pieces.
To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place each piece of chicken on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan. Heat until desired temperature is reached.