The secret to great fried chicken is brining, it keeps the chicken incredibly moist. Don’t brine the chicken for more than 24 hours, it could get too salty.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Yield: 24 pieces
24 cups water
1 cup coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
18 Turkish bay leaves
30 unpeeled garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
5 large fresh rosemary sprigs
1 1/2 bunches fresh thyme sprigs
1 1/2 bunches fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 3 1/2 pound chickens
6 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons garlic powder
5 tablespoons onion powder
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt plus additional for serving
6 cups buttermilk
12 cups peanut oil (for deep frying)
Brining: Bring all ingredients except chickens to boil in large pot. Boil 1 minute, stirring to dissolve salt. Cool completely. Chill brine until cold, about 2 hours.
Rinse chickens; add to brine, pressing to submerge. Chill at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain chickens and pat dry, removing any herbs or spices sticking to skin. Cut each chicken into 8 pieces. Chef Ming Tsai shows how to break down a chicken here.
Frying: Line 2 large baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix first 6 ingredients and 4 tablespoons coarse salt in large bowl. Place buttermilk in another large bowl. Dip each chicken piece in flour mixture to coat; shake off excess. Dip pieces in buttermilk, coating completely, then dip into flour mixture again, coating thickly (do not shake off excess). Place chicken on prepared sheets. Let stand 1 to 2 hours at room temperature to dry.
Pour peanut oil into heavy large pot. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pot and heat oil over medium-high heat to 320 to 330 degrees F. Working in batches of 4 pieces at a time, add leg and thigh pieces to oil (use splatter screen to protect yourself from hot oil). Adjust heat as needed to maintain temperature. Fry until cooked through and skin is deep golden brown, turning once with wooden spoons (to prevent crust from breaking), about 13 minutes. Using wooden spoons, transfer chicken to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Add breast pieces to oil and fry until cooked through and skin is deep golden brown, turning once, about 7 minutes. Transfer chicken to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Transfer chicken to platter. Serve warm or let stand up to 2 hours.