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posted: 7/30/2014 5:45 AM

Chef T's Fried Chicken

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  • Tom Leavitt of White Oak Gourmet in Arlington Heights soaks chicken in buttermilk before it hits the hot oil.

       Tom Leavitt of White Oak Gourmet in Arlington Heights soaks chicken in buttermilk before it hits the hot oil.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Before chicken hits the fryer Tom Leavitt soaks the pieces in a zesty brine.

       Before chicken hits the fryer Tom Leavitt soaks the pieces in a zesty brine.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 

2 pounds organic chicken legs and thighs or 1 (3½- to 4-pound) chicken, quartered

Brine

1 quart cold water

½ cup kosher salt

¼ cup cane sugar

1 tablespoons dried thyme

4 bay leaves

1 lemon, zested

Coating

2 cups buttermilk

4 cups flour

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

1½ teaspoon cayenne

1½ tablespoons onion powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon baking powder

Grapeseed oil, for frying

For the brine: Combine the water, salt, sugar, thyme, bay leaves and lemon zest in a deep container and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Place chicken pieces in brine, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove chicken from brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels.

Pour buttermilk into a shallow pan; add chicken and hold at room temperature for 1 hour.

Pour enough oil into a 6-quart Dutch oven to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325 degrees.

For the coating: In a shallow pan whisk flour, granulated garlic, cayenne, onion powder, paprika, baking powder, salt and pepper. Remove chicken from buttermilk and, working in batches, dredge chicken in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Lower pieces into the hot oil and fry, flipping once, until golden and almost cooked through, 8-10 minutes on each side, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 150 degrees. Transfer chicken to paper towels. Increase oil to 350 degrees and fry chicken until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes more; check temperature should read at least 160 degrees. Drain on paper towels or wire rack and season with salt and pepper.

Serves four.

Chef Tom Leavitt, White Oak Gourmet

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