In a new weekly segment, NBC Chicago teams up with Chicago chefs for a lesson in cooking. This week, learn how to make buttermilk fried chicken with the king of southern cuisine Art Smith, the chef and owner of Table-52.
For the brine:
1 gallon cold water
1 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 sprigs rosemary
5 sprigs thyme
4 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
For the chicken:
2 whole chickens, cut into 10 pieces each
1 quart buttermilk
For the egg wash:
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
For the dredge:
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 2/3 cups self rising flour (I use White Lily flour)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Canola oil for frying
To prepare the brine:
In a large soup kettle, dissolve the salt in 2 cups of water over medium-high heat. Add the remaining water, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add the black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves and bay leaves.
To prepare the chicken:
Place the chicken pieces in the brine for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator.
Remove the chicken from the brine and submerge in the buttermilk. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
To prepare the egg wash:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, hot sauce, salt and pepper.
Drain the chicken from the buttermilk and put in the bowl with the egg wash.
Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the egg wash.
To prepare the dredge:
Mix together the flours, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, paprika, cayenne, and thyme. Add more salt if needed.
Remove 2 pieces of chicken at a time from the egg wash, letting the excess liquid drain off. Roll in the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess flour and lay the chicken on a wire rack until ready to fry. (It is crucial that any excess flour is shaken off before frying the chicken.) . Repeat with all the remaining chicken pieces.
To fry the chicken:
Pour canola oil into a large cast iron pan to a depth of 1 inch and heat over medium-heat until it registers 325 °F. on a deep-frying thermometer. Place 4 to 6 pieces of chicken into the oil. Take care to use long tongs to move the chicken and do not crowd the pan.
Turn each piece about every 2 minutes. If the chicken begins to darken, turn the flame on the stove down slightly to adjust the temperature. Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 °F. Be sure to give the oil 5 minutes to reach the proper temperature before dropping in the next batch of chicken.
Place the fried chicken on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil and keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
Place the fried chicken on two large serving platters and serve. Serves 10 people.