My family has always been big on picnics and when I was a child one of my mother's standards for these occasions was cold, fried chicken. Being a Southerner, she pan-fried it instead of deep-frying. The night before a trip to the mountains or the lake she'd fry two whole chickens (the wish-bone was my favorite piece) and it would be perfectly crisp and luscious that night. The next day on the picnic it would somewhat soggy but luscious in a different way - almost a different dish. This can easily be doubled or tripled for dinner on the first go around and the next day's picnic fare.
Edited by Joy Nordenstrom, Romantic Meals’ Expert
- 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (or thighs)
- For the Marinade:
- 2 cups cultured buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon hot paprika
- 1 tablespoon salt
- For the Coating:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons hot paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Thoroughly mix marinade ingredients in a zippered plastic bag, add chicken, and refrigerate 12 - 24 hours, turning occasionally to ensure coverage. (If you're in a hurry, you can skip the delay and simply dip the chicken in the marinade and then proceed to step 3 but chances are it's not going to be as juicy.)
- Mix coating ingredients in a zippered plastic bag and shake well. Empty into a deep bowl or square baking dish.
- Remove chicken from marinade, shake off excess marinade, then dredge in coating.
- Set chicken aside on a plate and allow to rest for 30 minutes in a refrigerator.
- Heat 1/2 to 1 inch of oil in a medium, straight-sided, lidded skillet over medium high heat.
- Once oil is hot, re-dredge chicken in coating, shake off excess, and add to skillet (skin-side down).
- Cook for four minutes or until a light golden brown.
- Turn chicken over, reduce temperature to low, cover and cook 15 - 20 minutes more. (Ideally, cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 150F for breasts or 155F for thighs.)
- Remove cover, increase heat to medium-high, and turn over again. Cook another 5 minutes until coating is crisp and mahogany brown.
- Drain on a plate on paper towels or drying racks above tinfoil lined baking sheets.
Note1: Stick with either breasts or thighs that are the same size to assure equal cooking times.
Note 2: If doubling recipe, cook in two batches to avoid over-crowding or use a large to very large skillet.
Note 3: Although cast iron is widely lauded as the skillet of choice for pan-fried chicken, I find stainless steel or aluminum work better. Cast iron is slow to heat and slow to cool and you really want a quicker response when you turn the burner down and up.