- 31⁄2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
- 11⁄2 cups buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon salt, divided
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika, divided
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
- 2 cups flour
- 4 cups vegetable shortening or corn oil
- Begin the recipe at least 3 hours before you want to serve the fried chicken. Rinse and dry the chicken pieces with paper towels. In a large mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk with 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1⁄4 teaspoon each of the black pepper and paprika, and 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat evenly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, turning the pieces occasionally.
- When you are ready to cook the chicken, put the flour in a pie plate along with the remaining salt, pepper, paprika and the cayenne, and stir well with a fork.
- Place three layers of paper towels on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet in a spot close to the stove for easy access. Put the shortening or oil into a 10-inch to 12-inch cast-iron frying pan or Dutch oven. Over medium-high heat, heat the shortening until it registers 365 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer or (if you don’t have a thermometer) until a small cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in about 1 minute. You should have between 1 to 11⁄2 inches of oil, depending upon the size of your skillet.
- Remove the thighs from the marinade first, letting the excess marinade drain off over the bowl for a moment. Dredge in the flour mixture, turning to coat evenly. Shake off excess flour over the pie plate, then put the pieces skin side down in the center of the hot oil. Proceed to coat all the pieces in the same manner, removing any bits of flour clumps that accumulate in the pie plate and placing the other pieces around the thigh.
- Do not move the chicken until the coating is set and looks firm, for about 4 to 6 minutes. Check the underside by lifting with tongs. Rearrange the pieces when they are a deep golden brown. Fry on the other side until that side is also deep golden brown, rotating pieces as necessary. Remove from the heat when done (about 17 to 20 minutes for breasts and 20 to 25 minutes for the other pieces.) If you are not certain if a piece is done, pierce the thickest part of the piece with a sharp knife and the juices should run clear. Place on the prepared baking sheet to drain, and serve hot, cold or at room temperature.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.