My mother fried chicken in a cast iron skillet, but I prefer a covered Dutch oven, which produces less grease splatter. Mom used a paper grocery bag for dredging chicken, and added a dash of heat to her buttermilk batter. Any commercial brand will do in a pinch, but I prefer small-batch hot sauces, souvenirs of trips to Louisiana, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Mom also used peanut oil because it has a high smoke point, which is ideal for frying. (And adds a nutty flavor to the chicken.) If allergies are a factor, substitute safflower oil. After frying for years, I finally figured out the best trick for a crisp crust: baking powder makes it puff up and crackle. —Shane Mitchell
Test Kitchen Notes
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 4
chicken thighs and drumsticks, about four pieces each
small eggs, beaten
Crystal or Tabasco hot sauce, or more to your liking
all-purpose flour, preferably White Lily
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
peanut or safflower oil
- Pour buttermilk into a large mixing bowl and whisk in beaten eggs until blended. Add hot sauce. Then soak chicken pieces for up to 20 minutes at room temperature or covered overnight in the refrigerator.
- In a large brown paper bag, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
- Heat oil to just below smoke point, about 400° F, in a cast iron Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid.
- Working in batches, remove chicken from batter and dredge in flour mixture. Carefully slide into hot oil, without crowding pan. (About two-three pieces at a time.) Cover and reduce heat to medium. Fry on one side for ten minutes until crust is browned, then turn and continue to fry for another ten minutes. Remove to a cake rack covered with paper towels and cool slightly before serving.