Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken

  • Prep Time

    20 minutes

  • Cook Time

    30 minutes

  • Serves

    8 servings

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Ingredients

Brine
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp honey
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic smashed but not peeled
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3 large rosemary sprigs
  • 1 small bunch thyme
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 2 lemons finely zested
  • 2 3- pound chickens
Flour/Buttermilk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Let cool completely, and then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water.
  3. Add the chickens, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces, keeping the breast meat on the bone.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt.
  6. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  7. In a very large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 330˚F. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160˚, about 20 minutes.
  8. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain, and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining chicken pieces.
  9. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.

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