Classic Southern Fried Chicken Recipe
• 1 whole chicken (2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds)
• 1 quart buttermilk
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 4 to 5 teaspoons salt, or to taste
• 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
• 2 teaspoons paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
• Peanut oil, for frying
1. Cut chicken into 8 pieces – 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 breasts. Reserve the back for making homemade stock.
2. Divide and place chicken pieces into two 1-gallon zipper-seal bags. Add equal amounts of buttermilk to each bag. Seal bags, squeezing out as much air as possible. Place in refrigerator to marinate for 3 hours.
3. Remove chicken pieces from marinade and place on a baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, to allow chicken to warm up.
4. In a large plastic or paper bag, combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Add cayenne, if using. Shake bag to blend ingredients thoroughly. Add a piece of chicken to the bag, and shake to coat. Remove chicken from the bag, and place on a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Let the pieces stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to look wet. At this point, the pieces are either ready to fry or ready to be coated a second time.
5. When all chicken pieces are coated, pour enough oil in your frying pan so that the chicken pieces will be half-covered, and begin heating the oil to 375 F.
6. When the oil reaches 375 F, carefully add chicken pieces, being careful not to crowd them. Increase temperature and bring oil back up to 350 F as quickly as possible. Fry, turning pieces initially after 30 seconds, and then every 2 minutes, until chicken pieces reach the proper internal temperature. When using an instant-read thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of each piece, to make sure they're cooked through.
7. Remove chicken pieces from frying pan, and allow to cool on paper towels for at least 10 minutes before serving.