If you don’t soak chicken in buttermilk before you fry it, why on Earth not? Buttermilk tenderizes the meat, helps ensure a good coating, and adds flavor. Pump it up by adding heat to the soak and the coating. But I have to warn you: You’ll be spoiled. Once you fry your own chicken, you’ll never be happy with a bucket of bird again.
1 whole chicken, cut up, or 8 of your favorite chicken pieces
1 quart buttermilk
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
1?2 teaspoon cayenne (optional, if you like it hotter)
1?2 teaspoon salt
Place the chicken in a large bowl with a lid or a large reclosable plastic bag. In another bowl, stir together the buttermilk and hot pepper sauce. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the chicken, making sure all the pieces are covered. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook the chicken, pour enough vegetable oil into an electric frying pan or heavy frying pan to come to a depth of about 2 inches. Heat on medium-high heat to 350°.
Drain the chicken but do not rinse it. Combine the flour, chili powder, cayenne (if using), and salt in a large reclosable plastic bag. Put 3 or 4 pieces of chicken into the bag and shake to coat them. Shake off the excess flour when you remove the pieces. Place the pieces in the hot oil but do not crowd them. Adjust the heat to keep the oil temperature at 325°–350°. You may cover the pan briefly to keep down spatters, but do not cook the chicken completely with the pan covered or the crust will be soggy.
Fry the pieces for 5–8 minutes, or until the undersides are brown. Turn with tongs and cook another 5–8 minutes, adjusting the heat if the pieces are browning too quickly. The chicken is done when the internal temperature is 180° on an instant read thermometer or when no pink juices run out when the meat is pricked with a sharp knife.
Drain the pieces on wire racks set over plates before serving.
Recipe by Embers and Flame at http://www.embersandflame.com/the-library/buttermilk-a-savor-the-south-cookbook/