Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brined Fried Chicken

yield: Makes 8 servings

This recipe, from my old sous chef Mitch SuDock, makes the best fried chicken ever. We used to make brined pork at JUdson Grill, and he started using the brine to make fried chicken for our nightly staff meal. The benefit of brine is that the batter keeps the seasoning from penetrating the meat, but the brine works its way in. Keep a close eye on the thermometer when frying; try to maintain a temperature of 300°F, which will cook the chicken through without burning the exterior

Fried chicken:
  • 2 chickens, 3 pounds each, cut into 8 pieces each
  • Brine (recipe follows)
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil for frying (I cook 4 pieces of chicken at a time in 8 cups of oil in a 5-quart pot.)

  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds


For fried chicken:
1. Put the chicken in a glass baking dish and pour the brine over the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

2. Remove the chicken from the brine, remove any peppercorns stuck to the skin, and let the chicken dry slightly on a wire rack while preparing the buttermilk and flour.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk with 1 tablespoon of the salt. In another large bowl, stir together the flour with the remaining salt and spices.

4. Dredge the chicken 4 pieces at a time in the flour. Transfer to the buttermilk, gently shaking the bowl to coat the chicken. Transfer the chicken back to the flour, being careful not to scrape off the batter. Gently shake the bowl to coat the chicken with flour, then transfer the pieces to a wire rack, again being careful not to scrape off the batter. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken and let dry on the wire rack for 30 minutes.

5. Pour the oil into a 5-quart pot and heat it to a temperature of 350°F. Cook the white and dark meat separately over medium heat. The oil will cool to about 300°F after adding the chicken; this is the correct heat for cooking the chicken. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook for an additional 10 minutes for white meat and 12 minutes for dark meat. If the chicken gets too dark, lower the heat. Drain on a wire rack and repeat with remaining chicken. Serve hot or cold.

For brine:
Pour 4 cups cold water into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and add the sugar, salt, bay leaf, peppercorns, and coriander seeds. Allow to cool completely.

Cooks' note: Chicken skin should be clean with no drying and no odor. It shouldn't look of feel slimy. Do not use a wooden cutting board for chicken; I have a plastic board at home that I use only for meat and poultry, and I recommend that you do the same. Be sure to wash your cutting board thoroughly after cutting chicken.

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