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Buttermilk-and-Herb Fried Chicken

Soaking the chicken in seasoned buttermilk flavors the meat right down to the bone and ensures that it stays tender and moist after frying. With every bite, you’ll taste the tangy buttermilk, robust herbs and a hint of spicy heat from the pepper sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart buttermilk 
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/2 tsp. table salt 
  • 1 Tbs. red hot-pepper sauce 
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram 
  • 1 tsp. dried rubbed sage 
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme 
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled  
  • 1 chicken, about 3 1/2 lb. 
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper 
  • Canola oil for frying  

Directions:

In a large nonreactive bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, the 1/3 cup salt, the hot sauce, marjoram, sage, thyme and rosemary until blended and the salt is dissolved.

Cut the chicken into 9 pieces, then cut each breast half in half crosswise. Add the chicken pieces to the buttermilk mixture, submerging them fully. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 8 hours.

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, the 1/2 tsp. salt and the pepper. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk mixture; discard the buttermilk mixture. Dip the chicken one piece at a time into the flour mixture, coating evenly and shaking off the excess flour. Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet.

In a large, heavy fry pan (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1/2 inch and heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the wings, thighs and drumsticks to the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Carefully turn the pieces over and fry until golden brown on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a clean rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the chicken breast pieces in the hot oil in the same manner. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, add the chicken breasts to it and return the pan to the oven. Continue to bake all of the pieces until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts registers 160°F, about 10 minutes more.

Drain the chicken pieces on paper towels for just a minute or two, then transfer to a warmed platter and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).