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Crunchy Fried Chicken
|4||6 oz||Pieces of Chicken (bone in, skin on)|
|Thighs, Breasts, Wings, Necks, whatever floats your boat.|
|4||tbls||Crystal Hot Sauce|
|2||tsp||Ancho Chili Powder|
|1||tsp||Fresh Ground Pepper|
|1||11"||Heavy Gauge Frying Pan or Dutch Oven with Lid|
|5||cups||Lard, Solid Shortening or Peanut Oil (in order of preference)|
Whisk together the 2 cups of buttermilk, salt, and hot sauce in large bowl until salt is dissolved. Add chicken pieces to bowl and stir to coat; cover bowl with plastic or put entire contents into a ziplock freezer bag and refrigerate for 1 hour. Each additional hour will make the chicken saltier. Not to salty to eat, but saltier than most people expect. Personally, I leave mine in the fridge over night. (I also keep a salt-lick next to my bed)
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, chili powder, pepper and 6 tbls of buttermilk in a large bowl until buttermilk is evenly incorporated into flour and the mixture resembles coarse wet sand. Professionals rub the mixture between your fingers to create the "sand", however, I have found that a hand held mixer works pretty well for this.
This is the trick... adding a little buttermilk to the flour before breading the meat. This gives the two ingredients an affinity for one another, rather than repulsion. It's akin to blooming gelatin before mixing it directly in order to avoid lumps. (Haven't heard of that either? Well then, it's a twofer!)
Retreive the marinated chicken from the fridge. Let a reasonable amount of liquid drip from the chicken pieces before dredging them in the flour mix, then set aside on a cooling rack to macerate. About 15 minutes. This step is important. You are giving the flour time to bond with the moisture in/on the chicken.
Put ¾" of lard (et al) in an 11" frying pan or dutch oven and, using a candy thermometer (or Thermopen or Infrared) heat to 375º. Place chicken pieces, skin-side down, in the oil, cover, and fry until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove lid after 4 minutes. At this point, depending on your arrangement, the oil will have cooled to about 300º. That's what you want. If it isn't 300º, you need to make whatever adjustment necessary to bring it to, and keep it at, 300º for the remainder of the cooking cycle. After the initial 8-10 minutes, turn chicken over and continue to cook, uncovered, for another 6 minutes +/-, until chicken measures 160º internally.
There is a good chance you will have to cook your chicken in batches. If you do, be sure to bring the oil back up to 375º before you start the next batch.
Remove chicken to a cooling rack to drain and "rest", about 5 minutes, before serving.