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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

A buttermilk marinade will result in tender, juicy chicken. You can spice up your fried chicken or not, depending upon your preference, with the variations. The right equipment is important. You'll need a large pan to prevent crowding chicken pieces, so a 12-inch skillet or everyday pan is essential. Also handy for working with fried foods is a good pair of tongs which provide a more secure grip than a long-handled fork. If you're unaccustomed to frying foods, you'll be surprised how simple the process is, and how quickly you can produce a platter of delicious fried chicken.

  • 3 pounds frying chicken pieces
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided (or to taste)
  • 2 cups Crisco (or other good vegetable shortening)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
Preparation
  1. At least 3 hours (and up to 12 hours) before frying your chicken, combine the buttermilk with 1 teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pour mixture over chicken pieces, turn all pieces to coat well, and refrigerate.
  2. When you're ready to fry, drain the marinade from the chicken pieces. You can set the pieces on a wire rack set on a plate or cookie sheet.
  3. Melt the shortening over high heat in a skillet large enough to accommodate all the pieces without crowding. While the shortening is melting, combine the flour with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  4. Using either the paper bag or shallow dish method, coat the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, gently shake off any excess flour and place in a single layer on a sheet of waxed paper. (My personal preference is the paper bag method. Works like a charm and there's no cleanup.)
  5. When the melted shortening reaches a temperature of 360°F on a frying thermometer, carefully place the chicken pieces, skin side down, starting with the dark meat, in the center of the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and cover loosely. Cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is dark golden.
  6. Lower heat to medium and remove cover. Turn the pieces over carefully and cook, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.
  7. Remove chicken pieces, and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with Cream Gravy, or refrigerate and take with you on a picnic.
  8. Variations: Add 1 teaspoon tabasco or your favorite hot sauce to the buttermilk marinade; OR 1 or 2 pickled jalapeños with a few tablespoons of their juice.

Recipe editor

The serving dishes in our photograph are Fiesta dinnerware.

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