Southern Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is arguably the quintessential Southern dish. Although it's easy to pick up a drive-by bucket of fast food chicken, nothing compares to the real thing. The key to tender chicken is to marinate it in richly seasoned buttermilk brine - the longer, the better (up to 48 hours). The key to the crispy coating is to make sure the frying oil is at the proper temperature and to not crowd the chicken into the pan. Hot chicken is a culinary blessing, but properly fried chicken is also good cold.


    • 1 Cup Buttermilk (Preferably Not Low-Fat)
    • 1 Tbs Garlic Salt
    • 1 Tsp Kosher Salt
    • 2 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
    • 1 4-lb Whole Fryer (Preferably Skin-On) - Cut into 8 Pieces
    • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
    • 3 Tbs Cornstarch (Makes More Crispy)
    • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
    • 1.5 Tsp Cayenne Pepper (Or To Taste)
    • 2 Tsp Paprika
    • 1.5 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper (Or To Taste)
    • 24 oz Vegetable Shortening (Such as Crisco) for Frying


    1. For the Chicken: Whisk together the buttermilk, garlic salt, kosher sale and 2 Tsp black pepper. Place the chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture, completely submerging. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to "brine" for at least 6 hours (or up to 48 hours - the longer, the better).
        • Note: The salt acts as a brine; along with the buttermilk, it will produce tender, flavorful chicken.
    2. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cayenne, paprika and 1.5 Tsp black pepper. Place in a large, plastic zip-top bag. Lift a piece of chicken out of the buttermilk mixture, allowing the excess buttermilk to drain off (but don't drain off too much buttermilk, or you will not achieve a crispy coating). Add one piece of chicken at a time to the bag, and shake to thoroughly coat the chicken with the flour mixture. Place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to rest until ready to fry; continue with the remaining chicken pieces.
    3. Spoon the shortening into a large, deep cast-iron skillet (or Dutch oven); place over medium-high heat until the melted shortening registers 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. The fat should come up about halfway up the sides of the pan.
        • Note: An even oil temperature is key to the success of this recipe. A deep-fry thermometer should be kept in the pot at all times. Make sure the temperature never drops below 325 degrees F or rises above 365 degrees F during the cooking process.
    4. Once the fat has reached 350 degrees F, fry the chicken in batches, skin-side down, until golden brown and cooked through (about 6-8 minutes). Do not overcrowd the pan, or the chicken will not cook evenly. Turn, and fry until golden brown on the second side (about 6-8 minutes more). Between batches use a skimmer to remove all crispy bits floating in the oil. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined platter.
        • Note: When you are dropping the chicken in, hold the chicken in the pan with tongs for 3-5 seconds before dropping in gently. This prevents the chicken from sticking to the bottom.
        • Note: Dark meat takes longer to cook than white meat, and boneless skinless chicken will cook faster than bone-in, skin-on chicken, so watch carefully to prevent overcooking. Cook white meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F; cook dark meat to an internal temperature of 175 degrees F.
        • Note: If the chicken is brown but not quite cooked through, place in a 350 degrees oven to finish the cooking process (about 5-10 minutes).

The Viking School