Buttermilk fried chicken

Buttermilk fried chicken
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Photo by Shardar Tarikul Islam

Music may be the food of love but when it comes to food for the soul fried chicken is a hard act to follow.
With a crunchy, spiced coating and moist, flavoursome chicken it not hard to see why this is so finger lickn’ good!

Brining the chicken in buttermilk not only provides a slight tang to the flavor but it tenderises the meat too, resulting in wonderfully succulent chicken that just falls off the bone as you bite into it.

Resting the chicken between coating and frying helps form a slightly drier, thicker coating.

Not only can these be made a day in advance but after reheating they will be extra crunchy too. Place the cooked chicken in the fridge overnight. Bring the oil back up to temperature then refry for about 5 minutes.

Serves 4


4  chicken thighs
4  chicken drumsticks
500 ml buttermilk
1 litre flavourless oil eg sunflower or groundnut
300 g plain flour
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons salt


Mix all the spices and the sugar together. Use 2 teaspoons of this mix to rub all over the chicken pieces. Store the rest of the spice mix in a jar or bowl with a lid until the chicken is marinated and ready to coat with the flour.

Place the chicken in a large bowl, add the buttermilk, making sure the chicken is well coated. Cover with cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes, but for best results leave overnight in the fridge, turning the chicken occasionally to ensure an even coating.  This could also be done in a zip lock bag. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.

When you are ready to cook the chicken preheat the oven to 180C /350F /Gas Mk 4.

In a large bowl mix the flour, cornflour and remaining spices together. Season with the salt and white pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of marinade from the chicken and rub into the flour with your fingertips.

Remove the chicken from the bowl one at a time, allowing excess buttermilk to drip off. Toss each piece into the seasoned flour until every piece is thoroughly coated, pressing with your hands to get the flour to adhere in a thick layer. Set aside to rest while you heat the oil for frying.

Pour the oil into a large, heavy-based pan or deep fryer and heat until the oil reaches 200 C / 400 F, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil sizzles and turns brown after 30 seconds.

Fry the chicken in a single layer, do not overcrowd the pan so fry in batches if necessary. The chicken should take about 6 minutes for the underside to turn a deep golden brown. If the chicken is cooking too quickly adjust the heat accordingly.  Don’t be tempted to move the chicken too soon as this might result in the batter falling off. Turn the chicken over and cook the other side for 4 minutes, or until golden.

Bring the oil back up to temperature before frying the next batch.

Drain the chicken well and place the portions on a rack over a baking tray. Season with a light sprinkling of salt and pop into the centre of the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the centre registers  74°C (165°F).

Serve immediately.

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