Adapted from Gina Medeiros | Personal Collection, 2020
This fried chicken recipe is an amalgam of recipes and techniques I’ve tried over the years in the pursuit of fried chicken that’s worth the work. Adding booze makes the coating crisper. You could use vodka for more neutral results, but my love of bourbon prompted me to try that and that and it has since become my default. Also, I love spicy hot Nashville-style fried chicken. So, this recipe is meant to bring all of the best iterations of fried chicken together in delicious balance. [Editor’s Note: This spectacular recipe comes to use from one of our recipe testers, Gina Medeiros.]–Gina Medeiros
Bourbon Buttermilk Fried Chicken
1 H, 30 M
2 D, 4 H
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For the chicken
1 whole (about 4 pounds) chicken, cut into 10 bone-in pieces (2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 breasts cut in half crosswise to make 4 pieces, and 2 wings)
Kosher salt (1 teaspoon per pound [454 g] of chicken)
1 to 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
Bourbon (1 tablespoon per pound [454 g] of chicken)
1 quart buttermilk
For the coating
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, or less if you don’t like things too spicy
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Vegetable oil, for frying
Honey, for serving
Hot sauce or chile-infused oil and chopped fresh chile peppers, for serving
Marinate the chicken
Pat the chicken dry. Sprinkle the pieces evenly with salt and cayenne pepper and place them in a large resealable plastic bag or a large bowl.
Pour the bourbon over the chicken and then add the buttermilk. Seal the bag and then squish it around to combine the ingredients and fully coat the chicken and place the bag in a bowl or toss everything in the bowl. Place the chicken in the fridge, turning the pieces occasionally, for 48 hours. (Yes, it’s a long time to wait. Trust us. It’s worth it.)
Make the coating
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, cayenne, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, and coriander.
Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, remove the chicken from the brine and dredge it in the flour mixture. Place on the wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken. Stash the chicken in the refrigerator until dry to the touch, about 1 hour.
Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 to 45 minutes before you’re going to fry it.
Preheat the oven to 170°F (77°C). Place a clean wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
In a large deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add enough oil to reach a depth of 2 inches (5 cm). (Alternatively, you can use a deep fryer.) Heat the oil until it reaches a consistent 335°F (168°C).
Start frying the chicken, about 3 pieces at a time, taking care to not move the chicken around too much while it’s in the oil.
Fry the larger pieces first since they won’t dry out while staying warm in the oven. A good order is to fry 3 breast pieces in the first batch, then 1 breast and 2 thighs, then the drumsticks and wings in the last batch.
Cook the chicken for 7 minutes on the first side and then flip the pieces and fry until the chicken is golden brown and the internal temperature is 165°F (74°C), about 7 minutes more.
Drain the chicken pieces on paper towels, sprinkle with a little more kosher salt, then place them on the wire rack and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining pieces. Check the temperature of the oil and let it come back to 335°F (168°C) before frying the next batch.
If you like, drizzle the chicken with honey and hot sauce or chile-infused oil and fresh chile peppers before serving, if you like.
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