Mmm, Fried Chicken...

Homemade Fried Chicken
Fried chicken drumsticks - golden brown and delicious.
I hate deep frying. The hot oil, the splatters, the cleanup, all seem too annoying most of the time. So I pretty much never deep fry things in my house, with the one big exception of fried chicken.

I pretty much enjoy all fried chicken. Whether it's from the grocery store (Publix makes decent fried chicken) or out at a restaurant, I will happily indulge if you put it in front of me. Once I started making it at home though, my general "like" of fried chicken turned into "love." I hadn't imagined how easy crazy delicious fried chicken was to achieve at home until I started trying myself.

When I make fried chicken, I make only drumsticks. First, they are both my husband's and my favorite part. The breast has too much meat to skin ratio. Let's face it, that perfectly seasoned crust is half the enjoyment, and no one really wants the wings and thighs of fried chicken anyway. Second, using only drumsticks makes fried chicken a crazy cheap meal. And third, it's got it's own handle, and eating fried chicken with a fork and a knife is for jerks.

Boozy Epicure's Fried Chicken Drumsticks
This serves just 2, but cold leftovers are delicious, so feel free to make more. This will make more soaking liquid and breading mixture than you'll need, so if you are making more than 5 drumsticks, you may not need to increase the rest of the ingredients. Like many of my regular dishes, this is less a formal recipe and more of a guide to making fried chicken at home. You can fry any chicken part your heart desires, just be mindful of your cooking times, and feel free to add/delete spices and seasonings as you desire. When I have celery salt on hand, I tend to like adding it.

5 chicken drumsticks
4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup hot sauce*, I like Frank's Red Hot
onion powder
garlic powder
ground thyme
sweet paprika
1 cup AP flour**
1/3 cup semolina flour**
1/4 cup cornstarch**
Peanut oil, for frying***

*I use quite a lot of hot sauce - you can use less if you prefer, but I don't find it makes the chicken spicy. If that is your thing, add some cayenne powder to both the buttermilk mix and the flour mixture.
**You can use all AP flour, I've done it and you'll still get great results. I add the semolina because it gives the breading a little more crunch, and the cornstarch yields a lighter, crisper crust than I get without.
***Again, feel free to use any oil you like. I like the flavor of peanut oil here, but if you don't have it, I'd stick with vegetable, grapeseed, or corn. They are all neutral enough with a high smoke point. I've also seen people make fried chicken in extra virgin olive oil. They like the flavor, and don't mind spending the extra money. I find the flavor is lost with all those spices, and don't want to spend the $$ when you are using a lot of oil and peanut oil is so much cheaper. But if that floats your boat (I know some people who keep only extra virgin olive oil in their home) go for it, just make sure your oil doesn't get too hot.

First, you'll want to soak your chicken. I take the buttermilk and put it in a big ziplock bag then add the hot sauce, 1 tsp of ground thyme, and about a tblsp each of the garlic powder, onion powder, sweet paprika,  salt and pepper. Mush that around in the bag to combine, toss in your chicken and let that marinate in the fridge overnight. The buttermilk tenderizes the chicken and the seasonings just give you a head start at having super juicy, flavorful meat. This mixture will also be the base for your breading to adhere to.

The next day, pull out a second ziplock, add the flours, cornstarch, and again, 1 tsp of ground thyme, and about a tblsp each of the garlic powder, onion powder, sweet paprika,  salt and pepper. Get all these dry ingredients together, well combined, then one piece at a time, pull your chicken out of the buttermilk bag, toss it into the breading bag, then shake it up to get full coverage. Then pop the chicken on a sheet pan lined with parchment and move to the next. I like the ziplocks because it contains the mess. I also use tongs to move the chicken or your hand will get coated in sticky batter of buttermilk and flour.

Out of the buttermilk...
And after the shake in the flour bag.

Now you've got to let the chicken rest while you get your oil ready. First, preheat your oven to 325 F. The pull out your frying vessel (I use a dutch oven, but you can use a cast iron skillet too, or anything you feel confident frying in), put in the oil to get an inch or two deep, and get the oil heating up. I like to put in a probe thermometer. You are looking for the oil to be between 350 and 375 F.

I use a screen to protect me from hot oil.
Notice the thermometer and that I'm using my induction burner, it works great and is way more responsive than my electric range.

By the time the oil is hot, your chicken should be ready to go. I start with just 2 drumsticks, I'll do three in the 2nd batch. Just be aware that you don't want to overfill your vessel or the temp will drop too much and you won't get beautiful crisp chicken, you'll get a soggy oil slick. Place the chicken in the hot oil and cook it until it is brown on all sides. From there I put it on another sheet pan lined with parchment. I prefer finishing the chicken in the oven, it makes for more even results for me. That being said, the drumsticks took about 5 minute of frying in the hot oil to get brown, then about 15 more minutes in the oven to get fully cooked through. If your pieces are smaller or boneless, they will cook quicker, a massive chicken breast will need longer. I like to stick a probe thermometer in one of my drumsticks while its in the oven.

First batch frying...

Second batch frying...

After baking 15 minutes in the 325 oven - ready to eat!

Now just let them cool enough to handle and you've got glorious fried chicken. I like to serve it alongside macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes, as well as some vegetable, but tonight I'm recovering from all the chocolate cake I ate yesterday and decided to make a salad with creamy lemon basil yogurt dressing. For the dressing, I just scooped greek yogurt, lemon juice, fresh basil, 1 clove of garlic, salt, pepper, and a little white balsamic vinegar and avocado oil into a blender and whizzed away. Simple and delicious.

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