The lovely ladies from The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook were kind enough to share a recipe from their book (which comes out today!) with us. We chose Cafemantic's Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe because first of all, who doesn't love fried chicken? And, look at Jeanine Dell'Orfano's photos. Look at them! They're droolworthy. But mainly because we love Cafemantic, a farm to table restaurant in Willimantic, CT whose small plates menu focuses on local sustainable, and seasonal foods from purveyors in eastern Connecticut.
We made the recipe this past weekend and let's just say it's our new go-to fried chicken recipe. If you make it, share a photo of your results on Instagram and use the hashtag #CTHOMEMADE. We'll be sharing our favorites!
Cafemantic's Buttermilk Fried Chicken
This recipe is all about the brine, which is key when frying chicken for flavor and tenderness. The crispy golden brown outside complements the succulent meat inside.
2 gallons water
1 cup kosher salt
3 garlic heads, halved horizontally
1 large Spanish onion, quartered
1/4 cup brown sugar
10 fresh bay leaves
1 ounce thyme sprigs (about a handful)
1/2 ounce rosemary sprigs (about 8 sprigs)
6 lemons, halved, juice removed and reserved for brine
2 tablespoons allspice berries
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) chickens, cut into 10 pieces each to yield:
8 breast quarters (rib bones left attached), 4 wings, 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks
8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated garlic
1/2 cup granulated onion
2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups buttermilk
About 2 quarts oil, preferably peanut, for frying, or as needed
12 sprigs thyme
12 sprigs rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the brine (see notes): Combine all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely, about 2 hours. Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 12 hours.
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse under cold running water, and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Set on racks with baking sheets underneath, to catch excess liquid, and allow the chicken to come to room temperature before frying, about 2 hours.
To make the seasoned flour: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, then divide the flour between two separate shallow bowls. Pour the buttermilk into a third shallow bowl.
Heat the oil, about 3 inches deep, to 320°F in a large, heavy-bottomed, cast-iron Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the thyme and rosemary sprigs and fry until crisp, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the herbs and drain on paper towels. Set aside for garnish.
Pat the thighs and drumsticks dry once more with paper towels. Dredge the thighs and drumsticks in the flour, shaking off any excess; then in the buttermilk, shaking off any excess; and then in the second bowl of flour, shaking off any excess. Working in batches, carefully drop one piece of dredged chicken at a time into the hot oil (depending on the size of pot, about three pieces at a time). Fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning occasionally to brown on all sides and to prevent the pieces from sticking together; about 12 minutes per batch (depending on the size of drumsticks and legs).
Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and drain on paper towels, skin side up. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Adjust the oil temperature to 340°F and repeating the process with the breast pieces, frying until golden brown and cooked through; depending on the size of the breasts, about 10 minutes per batch. Finish with the wings, frying for about 8 minutes per batch. Garnish with the reserved fried herbs.
Notes: If a 2-gallon stockpot is too big for your refrigerator, transfer the chicken pieces to large bowls with the brine solids; top off with enough of the liquid brine to cover the chicken. Feel free to use precut chicken parts.