French Fried Chicken
Four servings
Adapted from Fried Chicken by Rebecca Lang I cut my chicken into eight pieces; two legs, two thighs, two breasts and two wings. If your chicken is large, you can cut the breasts crosswise into two pieces, leaving the wings attached, or you can cut them off if they’re large, for a total of 10 pieces. I used duck fat, which is a luxury in some places. You can use canola oil for frying the chicken if you wish. I used about 2 cups (500g) of duck fat. (In her book, Rebecca discussed the different frying fats and which works best for what recipe and result.) I worked in two batches, since only four pieces fit in my pan at a time. I did find that I had quite a bit of the flour/cornmeal mixture leftover, which may be because French chickens are leaner than their American counterparts. If you wish, make the flour/cornmeal mixture and set about one-quarter of it aside. As you toss the chicken, if you need more, use it. Otherwise reserve it and use it in another baking project. (Update: A commenter recommended using it in case you make gravy.)
1 whole skin-on chicken, cut into 8 or 10 pieces (see headnote)
1 3/4 cups (430ml) buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 1/2 cups (490g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (140g) cornmeal
2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
a few generous turns freshly ground black pepper
Duck fat or canola oil, for frying
1. Put the chicken in a zip top bag with the buttermilk marinade ingredients: the buttermilk, Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, Dijon, buttermilk and cayenne. Massage everything together, seal the bag, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
2. When ready to fry, set two wire racks over two baking sheets. Mix together the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a paper bag or a large bowl. Remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk brine and coat them with the flour mixture, working a few pieces at a time, making sure the pieces are thoroughly coated. (Toss them in the closed bag, or use your hands and toss them in the bowl.) Gently shake off some of the excess flour and set them on one of the wire racks over a baking sheet.
3. In a large, heavy skillet, such as cast iron, heat about 1 1/4-inch (4cm) of duck fat or canola oil. If using a deep-fry thermometer, the temperature should read 350ºF (180ºC) when ready to fry.
4. Carefully place as many pieces of the chicken as will fit in the pan without crowding it, skin side down. The temperature will decrease but try to keep the temperature of the oil around 325ºF (162ºC) as you fry.
5. Fry the chicken until the bottom is nicely browned, then use tongs to turn the chicken over and fry until the other side is browned and crisp. The chicken will take about 20 to 25 minutes to cook, total, and if you want to verify that it’s cooked, cut into the thigh piece near the bone; if the juices run clear, it’s done.
6. As the chicken is done, remove the pieces and set them on the wire rack. Use a slotted spoon or strainer to skin the fat or oil of stray pieces of chicken, so they don’t burn, then fry the remaining pieces of chicken.