Some folks might not wish to cook 5 pounds of chicken all at one time, but I have always thought that the effort involved in making a top-notch batch of fried chicken is much more worthwhile if I make a large batch at once. This chicken holds over very well in the refrigerator and is wonderful eaten cold. It also freezes well, so you can serve dinner and then bag the rest for future days when a meal must be produced more quickly. I like to fry the chicken in slices so that it cooks quickly and stays moist, which also makes it excellent for dipping. Try a variety of sauces: honey mustard, barbecue, or Ranch, just to name a few possibilities. Several years ago at Christmas time, I made 40 pounds of this fried chicken for a holiday open-house party that I catered. It was such a hit that every year after that, I was asked to cater that Christmas party…and every year the one specific request for the menu is that I include the fried chicken!
5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
For the marinade:
1 quart buttermilk OR soured milk (One cup milk with 2 T. replaced with vinegar = 1 cup buttermilk)
1 medium sized sweet yellow onion, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the coating:
4 cups unbleached white flour
1 ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoon paprika
Plenty of canola oil for frying
Pour the buttermilk into a large mixing bowl and stir in the sliced onion, salt and cayenne pepper.
Slice the chicken breasts into strips about 1 ½ inches wide. Place the chicken in the buttermilk and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. If you do not have the time to marinate overnight, a few hours will suffice…but the result is definitely better with about 8 hours of soaking.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and seasonings.
In a deep cast iron skillet, heat oil to 350 degrees. Your skillet should be halfway full of oil.
**Correct temperature is important, so use a deep fryer thermometer or candy thermometer.
Place chicken a few pieces at a time directly from the buttermilk bath into the seasoned flour. Roll around to coat the chicken quite thoroughly, then use tongs to gently lower the chicken into the hot oil.
**I usually fry no more than ten pieces at once, or the oil temperature drops and the chicken comes out soggy and greasy.
The chicken is done when the outer coating is a nice golden brown. It is a good idea to check a piece of every batch that comes out of the skillet to be sure it is cooking clear through. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes easy to tell when your chicken is perfect.
Drain on a rack to allow excess oil to drain away.
Serve hot, store in the refrigerator, or package for freezing. To re-heat later on, simply arrange on a shallow baking sheet and place in a 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes. To re-heat from frozen, place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. You can keep whole trays of the chicken warm in a 180 degree oven if you need to replenish serving trays for a party or larger gathering.