You know how it goes in line at the grocery store…you look at your phone, scan the gum and candy rack, check out what the person in front of you is buying and peruse the latest magazine headlines….it’s a ritual. When I saw the cover of Bon Appetit with the headline, “Best Fried Chicken Ever” and the sub-head, “In Five Easy Steps,” I threw the magazine into my cart. That was the February 2012 issue and I have been making this skillet-fried chicken since. It really is easy, just follow the recipe. Be warned; the recipe calls for the chicken to marinate overnight. I always kick myself when I buy all of the ingredients for a recipe, get everything laid out nicely and then realize I missed a step that requires some sort of overnight treatment. You can’t go wrong with this Skillet-Fried Chicken. Serve it up with roasted corn and flaky biscuits and honey. Your family will love you, your skillet and your fried chicken!
2 Tb kosher salt, divided
2 tsp plus 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 3–4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tb cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)
Whisk 1 Tb salt, 2 tsp 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.
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 Tb salt, and remaining 1 Tb 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. Heat 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°–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.