- 16 pieces of chicken (preferably drumsticks and thighs)
- 6 cups buttermilk
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
- In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the chicken for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- In a large, resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, pepper and cayenne. Set 2 large racks over rimmed baking sheets. Working in batches, drain the chicken, scraping off most of the buttermilk against the side of the bowl. Add the chicken to the bag, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat completely. Transfer the chicken to the racks, pressing the flour to help it adhere as you remove the chicken from the bag.
- Pour 1 inch of oil into each of 2 large cast-iron skillets and heat to 350°. Add about half of the chicken pieces to the hot oil, being sure not to crowd the skillet. Fry over moderate heat until the chicken is golden, crisp and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes; an instant-read thermometer should register 165° for thighs or drumsticks and 160° for breasts. Line the racks with paper towels and drain the chicken. Continue frying the chicken in batches, being sure the oil temperature stays at 325° during frying. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The fried chicken can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Serve at room temperature or reheat in a low oven before serving.
Crispy, juicy fried chicken needs a fairly substantial white wine as a partner. Look to Chardonnays from California's Santa Lucia Highlandsthey're fruity and lush, but they also have a satisfying edge of acidity thanks to the cool breezes that blow in from the Monterey Bay.