Tenderizing Hot Bath:
• ½ cup distilled white vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 ½ tsp. black peppercorns
• ¼ cup soy sauce
• ½ tsp. salt
• 4-6 pieces chicken, thighs and/or drumsticks, plus wings if desired (do not use breasts)
• 1 cup buttermilk
• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• ½ tsp paprika
• 1 tsp dried thyme
• ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
• About 3 cups peanut or canola oil for deep frying
• Salt to taste
Southern Fried Chicken Instructions:
• Arrange the chicken pieces on a work surface and season them with salt. Add the chicken pieces to the gently simmering broth, cover, and poach for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through. You want the chicken to poach gently and stay moist while picking up the flavor of the broth, so make sure the liquid does not get hotter than a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid, covered, about 20 minutes.
• Remove the chicken pieces from the bath (discard the broth) and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels & pat dry.
• To fry the chicken: Pour the buttermilk into a large shallow bowl. In another bowl, combine the flour, ½ teaspoon salt, the paprika and the pepper. Dip each chicken piece in the buttermilk, shake off any excess liquid, dredge in the flour mixture, turning to coat and transfer to a large plate. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. The flour coating will turn a little soft – that’s a good thing.
• Meanwhile, fill a large, deep cast-iron skillet about half-full with oil. Heat the oil to 365˚F. Cook the chicken pieces for 8 to 10 minutes, turning every minute or so, depending on how thick the pieces of chicken are; wings will cook faster and drumsticks will take the longest. Be sure to keep the oil temperature at around 350˚F to 365˚F. The chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches at least 165˚F. Using tongs, lift the chicken out of the oil and drain on paper towels.
• Season again with a little salt, transfer to a platter and serve with mashed spuds, potato salad, corn niblets or whatever makes you feel like you’re eating genuine southern soul food.