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Ranch to Table Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Rosemary Buttermilk Fried Chicken

byElizabeth Poett
Total 4 hours (includes cooling and brining time)
Active 50 mins
Makes 4 servings
This fried chicken brined with lemon and rosemary and drizzled with honey is unbelievably delicious! It’s also pretty simple to make; once I get the chicken in the brine, I can just let it sit in the refrigerator, and the brine will flavor the meat while I get work done around the ranch. I use a lot of lemon and 2 tablespoons of rosemary, which add some nice California flavors to the dish. And when I fry the chicken, I dredge it in flour twice—once before I dip it in the buttermilk and once after—so that the crust will be really crisp and bubbly after it’s fried.
TIP: To get a really crispy crust on my chicken, I add baking powder to the flour mixture (a trick I learned from my mom). After brining the chicken, make sure to dry each piece so that the mixture will stick to the meat. When your oil is hot, you can coat your fingers with buttermilk and some flour and sprinkle a few drops of that batter into the oil; if the temperature is right, the batter should bubble and pop. (Just be careful not to get your fingers too close to the oil!) If you smell something burning while you fry the chicken, you’ll want to turn off the oil, dump it out (discarding it in an appropriate container), and start over with fresh oil. In this episode, Elizabeth cut the recipe down to 8 drumsticks but there is enough brine and breading to cook 12 drumsticks as in the recipe above.
Special Equipment
a frying thermometer, a heavy deep-sided pan or Dutch oven
Special Equipment
a frying thermometer, a heavy deep-sided pan or Dutch oven
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 5 lemons, cut in half
  • 12 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 6 cups vegetable oil
  • Honey, for drizzling
  1. Make the Brine: Put the olive oil, garlic, and onions into a medium heavy-bottomed pot, add the salt, and cook over low heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes. While the onions are cooking, add the rosemary. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot and add the lemon halves as well, seeds and all.
  2. Cook until the lemons have heated through and you can smell them, but the lemon juice has not evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer the brine for about 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and transfer the brine (including the lemon halves) to a heat-proof container. Refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.
  3. Make the chicken: When the brine has cooled, put the chicken legs in a non-reactive container and pour the brine on top of them. Make sure the chicken is completely submerged in the liquid (add additional water, if needed), cover the container, and refrigerate the mixture for anywhere between 2 and 10 hours, to flavor the meat.
  4. Put the flour, baking powder (see Cook’s Note), onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well. Pour the buttermilk into a medium bowl and set aside. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Dredge the chicken in the flour, making sure to coat all sides, and set each piece on a plate or a baking rack on a cookie sheet. Pour the vegetable oil into a large, heavy deep-sided pan or Dutch oven with a candy thermometer or frying thermometer attached to the side. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350°F.
  6. Working in batches, cook the chicken: Dip each drumstick into the bowl of buttermilk, making sure to cover it completely, dip it back into the flour mixture, turning to coat, then carefully place it in the hot oil. (You’ll be able to fit 3 to 4 legs in the pan at a time; make sure not to crowd the pieces or let the oil get too close to the top of the pan.) Fry the chicken, turning it with tongs as necessary, until all of the pieces are crisp and lightly browned, about 7 minutes (see Cook’s Note).
  7. Remove it from the pan with tongs and place it on a plate lined with paper towels or a baking rack on a cookie sheet. Let the oil come back to temperature and repeat the process with another batch of chicken. (If your chicken is on a baking rack, you can put it into the oven at 250°F to keep it warm.)
  8. When all of the chicken is cooked, drizzle it lightly with honey and serve.