Perfect Fried Chicken
Fried chicken is having a renaissance. Of course, it never really went away. But this year, I’m hearing about fried chicken pop-up restaurants, seeing fried chicken recipes in every newspaper and magazine. My friend, Adeena Sussman, spent the past couple of years traveling the country to research fried chicken recipes for the cookbook she just co-authored with Lee Schrager, Fried and True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken & Sides. Close to home, fried chicken is on the menu at many of the restaurants I’ve visited this summer.
One such restaurant, Commonwealth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has a particularly delicious version. Chef Steve “Nookie” Postal soaks his chicken in a buttermilk brine for three full days before he fries it, leaving the meat melt-in-your-mouth tender and perfectly seasoned. I asked him for his recipe and found that even a 2-hour soak produced delicious chicken. My dinner guests raved. And because this recipe for perfect fried chicken calls for boneless thighs, the meat cooks quickly and still has plenty of flavor.
Commonwealth Fried Chicken
Total time: 45 minutes, plus at least 2 hours brining time
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
For the brine:
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the chicken:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili flakes. Add the chicken and let sit at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Of course, you don’t have to brine the meat at all, but the results here are so good, it really is worth a little advance planning.
Set a large skillet over medium heat and fill with enough oil to reach a 3/4-inch depth. You want the oil to be about 350° during frying.
Next, prepare the coating for the chicken: In a shallow pan (I use a cake pan), whisk together the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and salt. Dredge the chicken pieces through the flour mixture to coat.
When the oil reaches 350° on an instant-read thermometer, add the chicken, two or three pieces at a time and cook on one side until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn the chicken over and cook until browned on the other side, 1 or 2 more minutes.
Transfer cooked chicken to a sheet pan lined with paper towels or a brown paper bag. Cook remaining chicken as above. Serve immediately.