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Recipe: Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken

Accidentally caught an episode of Iron Chef: America a few nights ago, in which Cat Cora was making savory waffles (cheddar cheese, onions, etc.) topped by fried chicken, and I immediately declared this weekend was Fried Chicken Weekend.  With no particular favorite recipe, I scoured the links in my sidebar for ideas, and came across Smitten Kitchen‘s version, which is adapted from the extraordinary Cook’s Illustrated.  (I let my subscription lapse, but this is one of the best cooking mags out there, highly recommended.)  I’ve not materially changed it from SK’s version (yet), but am printing our version here for those of you who are interested.


8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

For Brine

  • 5 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 garlic heads, smashed but not peeled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp paprika
For Batter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
For Dredge
  • 6 cups flour
Mix the brine ingredients in a big tupperware bowl with a lid.  Put the chicken in and make sure everything is submerged.  Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.  Take it out after this time and place it on a cooling rack to air-dry.  Do not rinse or or pat dry.

Mix the batter ingredients in a bowl.  Put the flour in a second bowl.  Line ’em up along your counter, this is your prep station.

Dredging Station

Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, then coat it with batter, then coat it with flour.  Some use tongs for this but I find they gum up way too quickly…and you don’t need your chicken that’s going into hot oil to be sticking to the utensil on the way in…so I use a fork instead.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil of your choice (we like peanut) to 375 degrees.  Since we were cooking breasts, I only placed four in the skillet at a time, and let them cook about five minutes on each side.  


If you wind up doing batches, as we did, let the oil get back up to 375 degrees before starting the next batch.

Cool and drain on a baking rack over a cookie sheet.


The Verdict


It was juicy for sure, but I found the crust just a bit overdone, and it neared being too salty for my taste.  Husband says that’s crazy-talk, that it was very good, but I personally think that was the diabeetus talkin’.  Not a bad recipe, all in all, but the search continues.

Speaking of searching, I need a frickin’ potato salad recipe, difficulty: no onions or pickles, sweet or otherwise.  Help a sister out.