Buttermilk-Cornmeal Fried Chicken

Buttermilk-Cornmeal Fried Chicken

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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 Serves 4.
Ask Southerners to name their favorite dish and the answer is inevitably fried chicken. There are probably as many recipes for this Southern specialty as there are folks to enjoy it. My version uses buttermilk and Tabasco to tenderize and flavor the chicken, and cornmeal for a crisp crust.


  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco or other hot-pepper sauce
  • 1 chicken, about 3 1/2 lb., cut into 8 serving
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 cups solid vegetable shortening


In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk and Tabasco. Slip the chicken pieces into the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.

In a shallow baking dish, stir together the cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, sage, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk, allowing the excess to drip away. Coat the pieces evenly with the seasoned flour and place on a large baking sheet.

In a bistro pan or a large, deep fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the shortening and heat to 360°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Arrange the chicken, skin side down, in the pan, placing the pieces of dark meat in the center and the pieces of white meat around the sides. Allow the pieces to touch slightly, but do not overcrowd the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken, cover and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, turn the chicken again, and cook until crisp and cooked through, about 10 minutes more.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain. Serve piping hot, at room temperature or even chilled, straight from the refrigerator.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking Series, The South, by Roy Overton (Time-Life Books, 2000).
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