For the marinade:
2 cups buttermilk (can also use plain yogurt thinned with a little milk)
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, tarragon), chopped, or a teaspoon each of the dried herbs.
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, wings, breasts), bone-in, skin-on
For frying the chicken:
2 cups cooking oil (such as canola or peanut oil)
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
- Marinate chicken in buttermilk mixture:
Combine the buttermilk, sliced onion, herbs, paprika, and cayenne in a large bowl. Place the chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture and coat completely. Cover and marinate overnight (at least 8 hours).
- Drain chicken:
Place chicken pieces in a colander and drain the excess buttermilk mixture.
- Coat chicken pieces with flour:
In a large sturdy paper or plastic bag, mix flour with garlic salt, onion salt, cayenne, salt and pepper. Place chicken pieces into bag with flour mixture and shake until thoroughly coated.
- Heat oil in thick-bottomed pan:
Heat 2 cups of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron, stainless steel, or anodized aluminum—something that can take the heat) on medium high heat until a pinch of flour starts to sizzle when dropped in the hot oil (but not so hot that the pan is smoking), about 350°F. Remember when working with hot oil, always have a pan lid close by.
- Fry the chicken:
Working in batches, add the chicken pieces to the hot oil in the pan and fry on one side for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown, and then use metal tongs to turn the pieces over and fry for another 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Cook about 5 pieces at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan. Repeat until all the pieces are cooked.
Be careful to keep the oil hot enough to cook the chicken thoroughly, but not so high that it burns the batter, about 300° to 325°F.
- Place chicken on rack to drain excess oil:
Use tongs to remove chicken from pan. Place on a rack over a cookie sheet or broiling pan for the excess oil to drain. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Let cool about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.