Calling all fried chicken lovers! This chicken fried chicken recipe is guaranteed to be your favorite new comfort food! A soak in buttermilk and pickle juice brings big flavor and tenderness to this crispy chicken, and the easy dredging method means less mess and easier cleanup. Plus, there’s gravity! This chicken is perfect on its own, but it’s also wonderful on a sandwich!
Why is it called “chicken fried chicken”?
This recipe takes its name from a Southern classic, chicken fried steak, which is a thin cut of beef (usually cube steak) that is breaded and fried, just like fried chicken, and served with a simple white gravy. Instead of using bone-in pieces of chicken, chicken-fried chicken recipes often call for boneless pieces, like breasts, cutlets, or boneless, skinless thighs.
Do you need to use buttermilk to marinate chicken fried chicken?
Buttermilk helps to tenderize the chicken, in addition to making it extra juicy. But if it’s hard to find in your area, here’s how to make buttermilk: whisk together 2 tablespoons of sour cream, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and enough milk to yield 1 cup total. This mixture will mimic the thickness, acidity, and flavor of buttermilk in a pinch.
Can you use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs for this recipe?
Chicken breasts are perfectly acceptable for this recipe under one condition—avoid giant pieces. The chicken thighs called for in this recipe vary in thickness (as chicken thighs do), but they’re generally no more than 1-inch thick. If the chicken you have is a lot thicker, cut the pieces into thinner cutlets that will cook through in the specified amount of time.
What’s the trick to perfect fried chicken?
The ticket to delicious, crispy chicken is to get the oil hot enough, and keep it from cooling off too much while frying. The best way to do this is to use an instant-read thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. Heat the oil to 350°, then add the first couple of pieces of chicken. The oil temperature will drop slightly, but that’s OK; just try to keep it above 325°. Other than that, just be sure to not overcrowd the pan, and the chicken will turn out crispy, golden, and perfect.
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4 – 6
For the Chicken:
pickle juice (from the jar)
boneless, skinless chicken thighs
ground black pepper
Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
For the Gravy:
warm whole milk, divided
salt, more more taste
ground black pepper, more more to taste
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- For the chicken: Whisk together buttermilk, pickle juice, and egg in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the chicken to the buttermilk mixture; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to 4 hours.)
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 10 minutes before frying. Stir together the flour, seasoned salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and 3 tbsp. of the chicken marinade in a medium shallow bowl until well combined (the mixture will be pebble-y). Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dredge the chicken in flour mixture, patting to coat. Shake off the excess flour, and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
- Add oil to a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven to a depth of 1 1/2 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350°.
- Preheat the oven to 200°.
- When the oil is hot enough, fry the chicken in batches until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. (The internal temperature of the chicken should read 165° on an instant read thermometer when finished.) Transfer to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Hold warm in the oven.
- For the gravy: Discard the remaining oil in the skillet; wipe the skillet clean. Add the butter to the skillet; heat over medium heat until the butter melts. Sprinkle the flour over the butter; cook, whisking constantly, until the flour smells toasty and turns light golden brown, about 2 minutes.
- Gradually add 3 cups of the milk, whisking to break up any clumps. Add salt and pepper, and bring to gentle simmer. Cook, whisking frequently, until the gravy is smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes. Add more milk, if needed; season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the chicken among plates; spoon over the warm gravy. Sprinkle with more pepper, if you like.
Warming the milk before adding it to the gravy will help reduce the amount of lumps, which means less whisking for you!
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