Buttermilk Fried Chicken | Wine Enthusiast
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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Courtesy Sara Lukasiewicz, executive chef, The Amsterdam, Rhinebeck, NY

Crispy, craggy fried chicken is always a crowd pleaser at a picnic: It’s easy to pack, has a perfect ratio of salt, protein and fat, and good at any temperature. When it comes to buttermilk fried chicken, Sara Lukasiewicz makes some of the best. She usually wedges it into a sandwich, but her recipe here is perfect for whenever or wherever you break out the picnic basket.



1 5-pound chicken, quartered, or 5 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and wings
½ quart buttermilk
1¼ tablespoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons fresh-ground black pepper
8 ounces all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon granulated onion
⅛ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon sweet pimenton
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying


In 9×11-inch baking dish, arrange chicken pieces in single layer. In large bowl, mix buttermilk, ¾ tablespoon salt, sugar, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon black pepper until combined. Pour over chicken, and ensure meat is submerged. Cover and place in refrigerator for 12–48 hours.

When ready to fry, combine flour, ½ tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ginger, granulated onion, granulated garlic, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper and sweet pimenton in shallow baking dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk and dredge in flour mixture. Shake off excess, then coat once more in buttermilk mixture and once more in flour mixture. Let rest on baking sheet lined with damp towel.

Warm 2–2½ inches oil in large, deep, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until oil reaches 325˚F. Using tongs, carefully add chicken to oil. Work in batches, if necessary. Cook, turning occasionally, until brown and crispy and internal temperature registers 165˚F. Transfer to paper towels. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to pack. Chicken can be fried 24 hours in advance. Serves 4–6.

Pair It

Meurgey-Croses 2015 Vieilles Vignes (Viré-Clessé). For a pairing that’s sunshine-appropriate and can hold its own opposite fried chicken, James Jusseaume, general manager/sommelier at The Amsterdam, looks to a Chardonnay. “This wine is what I call a patio-pounder,” he says. “Aromatic and floral, it cries ‘picnic’ to me. It also has hints of citrus peel and spice balanced with some mineral notes that complement the dish very nicely.”

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