Every once in a while, a soul needs some fried chicken -- some real, 'honest-to-goodness, deep fried in oil and accompanied by country gravy' fried chicken.
If I were the sort of individual who places blame for my dietary transgressions on others, I could probably point my finger at the folks from Bon Appétit magazine. My February issue arrived this past week, and there's a big ol' golden and gorgeous fried chicken leg on the cover, accompanied by the words 'BEST FRIED CHICKEN EVER!' ... in all-caps and red ink. I mean, come on. What red-blooded American can resist such temptation?
So we made it (Ty actually fried the chicken) -- the Best Fried Chicken Ever, according to Bon Appétit magazine. We just used legs and thighs, and actually doubled the amount of the seasoning measurements, which, by the way, was my favorite part of the recipe. It had great kick and super flavor.
I added my favorite homemade country gravy recipe as a topper to a pot of fluffy mashed potatoes, and it was a super meal.
And now that I have it out of my system, I probably won't have to make it again for another year or two ... or until another magazine cover tempts me to do so. Because, really, it wasn't my fault to begin with.
Classic Cast Iron Skillet-Fried Chicken
(from Bon Appétit)
Special Equipment: a deep-fry thermometer and cast iron skillet
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
- 2 teaspoons, plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 3-4 pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed (I just used 4 thighs and 8 legs, pre-cut and packaged)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- peanut oil (for frying)
Whisk 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight (I didn't ... just let it sit for a few hours in the fridge).
Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 tablespoon salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon pepper in a 9x13x2 baking dish.
Pour oil into a 10"-12" cast-iron skillet (or other heavy straight-sided skillet - not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4". Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Head over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.
Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1-2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300° to 325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.
Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.
Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Southern Style Country Gravy
(adapted from cbsop.com)
- 5 tablespoons salted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk (skim won't work)
- approximately 1 tablespoon coursely-ground black pepper
- salt, to taste
In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and combine. Add about a teaspoon of coursely-ground pepper.
Stir butter mixture until the flour is about the color of creamy peanut butter and fragrant.
Add a cup of milk and increase heat to medium.
Allow gravy to come to a simmer, whisking constantly to avoid sticking. At this point, the gravy is likely to seize, so be ready with more milk.
Add the remainder of the milk, by quarter cups, until gravy has thickened considerably. Continue to add milk, as needed. Gravy will continue to thicken some, even after removed from heat.
Add remainder of pepper, as desired, and a pinch of salt, to taste.