Special equipment: deep-frying thermometer
- 4 cups (1 quart) buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- One 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- Solid vegetable shortening or vegetable oil, for frying
Whisk the buttermilk with the thyme, oregano, hot sauce, garlic and 1/4 cup salt in a large nonreactive bowl (see Cook's Note). Add the chicken pieces, turn to coat, cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to fry, shake the flour, paprika and 1 tablespoon black pepper in a large, clean plastic or paper bag. Set a large rack over a baking sheet. Drain the chicken in a colander. Shake 2 or 3 pieces at a time in the flour mixture, then shake off any excess and transfer to the rack.
Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add enough shortening to come halfway up the sides. Heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil registers 350 degrees F.
Working in 2 batches, carefully add the chicken pieces to the Dutch oven. The oil temperature will drop precipitously to about 250 degrees F as you slip in the chicken. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the temperature right around 250 degrees F. The oil should be bubbling gently around all of the chicken. Fry the chicken until it is a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes for white meat and 25 minutes for dark meat. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined platter. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
The 1/4 cup salt serves not only as flavoring, but also as a brine. Some fried chicken aficionados claim the chicken should be covered while it cooks to stay juicy, but we found that the moisturizing steam also steamed the crispy coating right off our bird. Brining makes the meat juicier. With our method, you have a no-compromise situation on your hands: You get succulent chicken and a crunchy coat.