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In all my years growing up and more recently, the past several years developing my passion for cooking – I have never made fried chicken!  For some reason, I got the crazy idea of making it the other day and my family was more than happy about it!

A couple of years ago Rob bought me a cast iron skillet for Christmas.  It is a great tool to use for making fried chicken.  The cast iron distributes heat evenly and helps maintain the temperature of the oil.  This helps the chicken become more crispy and prevents the chicken from absorbing too much of the oil.  Really greasy fried chicken is usually the result of the temperature of the oil being too low and the chicken spending more time than necessary in the oil cooking.

It’s also important once the chicken is cooked to remove it from the oil and place it on a cooling rack where air can circulate around it.  Even immediately removing it from the heat, it is still slightly cooking and releasing steam.  If you place it on a paper towel or a plate, there is no place for this steam to go and it prevents that area from staying crispy.  With the cooling rack, air can circulate around the food and it doesn’t get soggy from absorbing the steam.  This is crucial in maintaining the crispyness everyone has come to love about fried chicken.

Now it was time to find a recipe.  I searched through a few and found some things I liked and disliked about them.  I knew I wanted it to be flavorful and well seasoned, but what combination of seasonings would be best.  I finally came across Alton Brown’s Fried Chicken recipe and really liked the flavor profile.  So I gave it a shot.  My family loved it.  Thank you Alton Brown for this amazing recipe!

Fried Chicken

1 broiler chicken, cut into 8 pieces (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts)
2 cups low fat buttermilk
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika (I used the more common Spanish paprika, as that’s what I had on hand)
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Flour, for dredging (seasoned with additional salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper)
Oil or vegetable shortening for frying

1).  Place chicken pieces into a plastic container and cover with buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
2).  Melt enough shortening (over low heat) or pour enough oil to come just 1/3-inch up the side of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. Once shortening liquefies raise heat to 325 degrees F.  Do not allow oil to go over 325 degrees F.
3). Drain chicken in a colander. Combine salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Liberally season chicken with this mixture. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour and shake off excess.
4). Place chicken skin side down into the pan. Put thighs in the center, and breast and legs around the edge of the pan. The oil should come half way up the pan. Cook chicken until golden brown on each side, approximately 10 to 12 minutes per side. More importantly, the internal temperature should be right around 160 degrees. (Be careful to monitor oil/shortening temperature every few minutes.)
5).  Drain chicken on a rack over a sheet pan. Don’t drain by setting chicken directly on paper towels or brown paper bags. If you need to hold the chicken before serving, cover loosely with foil but avoid holding in a warm oven, especially if it’s a gas oven.

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown.

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