Brining Chicken makes a HUGE difference in flavour! I would say if you can be organized and plan ahead, it is totally worth your while! My boys ate this up in no time! Another great thing about this chicken is you can fry it ahead and leave it in the oven to keep warm until company arrives – which is great because deep-frying chicken while your company is waiting…..with oil-splattering everywhere, would totally not be fun.
There is still snow on the ground where we live, but I envision making this recipe again when it warms up around here and enjoying on a hot summers day. Whatever the weather is like where you are this chicken is delish and worth a try! Trust me! You won’t regret it!
For the Brine you’ll need:
– 1 small onion, thinly sliced
– 4 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of you knife
– 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
– 3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
– 5-6 branches rosemary (each 4-5 inches long in size)
– 4 1/2 cups water
– 1 lemon, halved
For the Fried Chicken:
– 16 pieces of chicken (the original recipe calls for 8 wings and 8 legs) – I used all drumsticks because thats what I had, but a combo of whatever you have will work
– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 3 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
– 2 Tbsp sweet paprika
– 2 Tbsp fine sea salt
– 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
– 2 Tbsp baking powder
– 2 cups of buttermilk
– Neutral, high-heat oil for deep-frying (such as canola)
– Lemon Zest and Rosemary Sprigs for garnish (I used fried sage leaves), those were good too.
For the brine:
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, saute your onion and garlic in the oil until translucent. Add the kosher salt after 30 seconds or so to your onion and garlic while they are cooking. Add the rosemary and cook it just to heat it (30 seconds or so). Add the water and juice from your lemon. Bring the water to a simmer, stirring until all the salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow the brine to cool completely.
Once the brine has chilled:
Place all your chicken pieces in a large sturdy plastic bag (I just use a large freezer bag). Set the bag in a large bowl for support. Pour the cooled brine and aromatics into the bag, seal removing as much air as possible to ensure the chicken is submerged in the brine. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
Once you are ready to fry up your chicken….yes this is the moment you have been waiting for! All that tender loving brine love will be worth the wait I promise!
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat try. Set on a rack or paper towels. At this point you can hold off even longer and put your chicken in the fridge up to 3 days before you cook it, but hey – you were patient enough to brine – I say just go for it!
Combine the flour, black pepper, paprika, sea salt, cayenne and baking powder in the bowl. Whisk to combine. Divide the flour mixture into 2 bowls. Pour buttermilk into a third bowl. Set a rack on a baking sheet. You need a little assembly line action when breading your chicken.
Then it’s easy from there…dredge your chicken first in the seasoned flour bowl number 1, then dip it in the buttermilk bowl, then dredge quite liberally into the last bowl of flour and return the prepped chicken to your rack.
Heat oil in a large, high sided pot (filling it no higher than 1/3 full with oil). For deep-fying your oil should be at a temperature of 350F.
Working in batches (do not crowd the pan) cook the chicken, turning occasionally until they are golden brown and cooked through (12-15 minutes depending on their size). Remove to a clean rack and allow to rest 5-10 minutes prior to serving.
For garnish – lemon zest – or fried rosemary sprigs or sage leaves are good.
*Make Ahead: Keep the chicken on a rack in a 250F oven until you need it.