Pan Fried Chicken - Michael Ruhlman Technique Series
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Le Creuset Technique Series with Michael Ruhlman

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Our cast iron skillets are well-known for their sizzling and searing abilities, but our enameled deep skillet is the perfect vessel for pan-frying favorites like crisp and juicy fried chicken at home. Michael’s method calls for first frying on the stovetop and then finishing in the oven for the perfect cooked-through crust.

 
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Sauce

Serves 4–6

  • Ingredients

  • Brine
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 or 6 branches of rosemary, each 4 or 5 inches long
  • 1 lemon, quartered

  • Chicken
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Oil for pan-frying (about 2 1/2 cups)

Instructions

Make the brine first. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until onion is translucent, a few minutes. Add 3 tablespoons salt after the onion and garlic have cooked 30 seconds or so.

Add the rosemary and cook until heated, about 30 seconds. Add 4 cups water and the lemon, squeezing the juice from the wedges and removing any seeds.

Bring the water to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from heat and let brine cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled.

Next, cut and brine the chicken. Remove the legs from the chicken where the thigh connects to the body. Separate the leg from the thigh by cutting at the line of fat between them on the underside of the leg.

Remove the wing tips and reserve for making stock. Remove the wings at the joint where they connect to the body.

Remove the breast and breast bone from the back of the chicken, slicing along the rib cage and through the joints connecting the breast to the back. Reserve the back for making stock.

Cut the breast in half widthwise. Halve the remaining breast piece lengthwise through the keel bone. You should now have 9 pieces for frying. (The wing tips, back, neck and gizzard will give you 3 cups of stock. You can freeze them for later use.)

Place the chicken pieces in a large, sturdy plastic bag. Set the bag in a large bowl for support. Pour the cooled brine and aromatics into the bag. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, so that the chicken is submerged in the brine. Refrigerate at least 8 or up to 24 hours, gently shaking the bag occasionally to redistribute the brine and the chicken.

Remove the chicken from the brine. Rinse under cold water, pat dry and set on a rack or on paper towels. At this point, you may refrigerate the brined chicken up to 3 days before cooking, or it can be cooked immediately. Ideally, it should be refrigerated, uncovered, for 1 day to dry out the skin.

Next, fry the chicken. Preheat your oven to 300 F. Set a rack on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, combine the flour, pepper, paprika, sea salt, cayenne and baking powder. Whisk to distribute the ingredients. Pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl.

Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shake off any excess, and set the dredged pieces on the rack. Next, dip them in the buttermilk, then dredge them in the flour again and return to the rack.

In a deep skillet, heat oil to 350 F. Add the dark meat pieces, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 12–15 minutes.

Remove to the rack and place in the oven to finish cooking while you fry the remaining pieces. Place these pieces in the oven to let them finish cooking.

Chicken can be fried up to 2 hours in advance. If allowing that much time, reduce oven temperature to 200 F to allow chicken to finish cooking slowly.

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