Classic Fried Chicken

A reader below asked a really great question – how to dispose of the leftover oil? Whatever you do, don’t pour the leftover oil (you’ll have quite a bit left) in your sink. You should pour it into a container and throw that out, or you could try taking it to a local restaurant that does some deep-frying and asking them if they wouldn’t mind recycling it along with their oil. I don’t see why they would turn you down (unless they have to pay for it or something) – but it is a better thing for the environment.

12 chicken parts (I used drumsticks and thighs)
1 quart buttermilk
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Tabasco sauce, enough to slightly color the buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Peanut oil, for frying


1. Rinse the chicken parts and pat them dry. In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk, onion, garlic, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and Tabasco. Submerge the chicken in the marinade, cover, and let rest in the refrigerator for overnight.

2. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before cooking. In a bowl, mix the flour, the mustard powder, 2 teaspoons salt, cayenne pepper, and the remaining black pepper. Place a paper bag inside another paper bag (to prevent seepage; you may need several bags for this) and transfer the flour mixture into it. Shake each chicken piece, one by one, in the paper bag until completely coated and set on a dish. This is much better than dredging the chicken in the flour in a bowl, or in a Ziploc – somehow the structure of the paper bag allows for better shaking and, thus, coating. Alternatively, you can take one of the large, wider Ziploc plastic containers (or an empty cardboard cookie box from a bakery) and shake your chicken in those. Either works better than dredge in bowl or shaking in a Ziploc plastic bag.

3. In a large Dutch oven or heavy skillet with tall sides, heat the oil (it should come up to about 3-inches tall) until it reaches 350 degrees F. Gently slide a few pieces of chicken in the oil (to prevent an occasional splatter, I like to wear oven mitts while I hold tongs and slide my chicken in). Fry the chicken in the oil for 6 minutes, gently flip the chicken with tongs. Continue frying for another 6 minutes, then flip the chicken once more and fry until dark golden brown and the juices run clear when pricked with a fork, about another 5 for dark meat. White meat will cook faster so test it sooner, and flip earlier. You should slightly shorten the cooking time with each subsequent batch as the oil will get hotter and cook your chicken parts faster. Use your judgment here – if you see the chicken browning too fast, adjust the cooking time accordingly.

4. Place the chicken on a wire rack set over a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Allow the chicken to drain for 1 to 2 minutes, before flipping it over (otherwise, it collects the steam rising from the paper towels and makes a damp, soggy spot on your chicken pieces) then serve warm. Leftover fried chicken (if you have any) makes for a great following-day-picnic.

Serves 4 to 6.

© 2018 Olga Massov