I am a New England Patriots fan. There, I said it. Yes, I grew up in Colorado and yes, we live in Denver now. However, I truly became a football fan when I met Rob and that was in Boston... and the Patriots won three Super Bowl Championships while I lived in Boston! And to be fair, Denver lost three Super Bowls while I lived in Colorado. The cards were stacked against the Broncos years ago.
Anyway. That was a long introduction into the fact that Rob and I watched the Patriots game last weekend. Rob's birthday was a few days prior and he was out of town, so we celebrated on Sunday by watching football and eating a delicious meal - fried chicken and salad followed by molten chocolate cake (more on that simple and melt-in-your-mouth (literally) dessert later). It seemed fitting to eat fried chicken while watching sports and the cover of the February Bon Appétit was calling my name.
Only in the past year have I become comfortable with the idea of occasionally frying food. We are generally very healthy people, but sometimes you just want something crispy and oily and delicious and, frankly, unhealthy. This is only my second attempt at fried chicken and it was a success. What sets this recipe apart is the cayenne pepper and paprika -- I think the slight spiciness in the skin of the chicken really makes this stand out. This is the perfect food to serve for the Super Bowl with a healthy salad and delicious beer.... and be sure to root for the Patriots!
"Skillet" Fried Chicken
Yield = 4 servings
2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon 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 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut, canola or vegetable oil (for frying)
special equipment: A deep-fry thermometer
Whisk 1 Tbsp. 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 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2" baking dish.
Pour oil into a 10"–12" cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not non-stick - I used my Le Creuset) 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. If you have a fry screen, place it over the chicken between turns to prevent the oil from spraying you and your stove.
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.