1 fryer (young) chicken, about 1.25 to 1.75kg, cut into 8 pieces
3 cups buttermilk
2 onions (sliced)
1 cup plain flour cayenne pepper pepper
1½ teaspoons salt
2 cups vegetable shortening (Copha) or oil
Ask the butcher to cut your chicken into 8 pieces. Shower it with kosher salt and put them in the refrigerator (uncovered) for about an hour. This quick brine will draw off some of the liquid and concentrate the flavour of the meat.
Rinse off all the salt and plunk the chicken into a bowl with the buttermilk and the onions. Leave it to luxuriate in this bath in the refrigerater overnight; the buttermilk will transform the flesh, making it almost silky. Meanwhile the onions will leave behind a hint of their own perfume.
Paper bags are becoming an endangered species, but if you have one, fill it with the flour, a shake of cayenne pepper, a few grinds of pepper and the salt. If you don’t have paper, a sturdy plastic bag will do. Give it a good shake, then add one of the pieces of damp chicken and shake well so it’s covered with flour. Set the chicken on a rack or a plate and repeat until all your pieces are covered with flour. Allow the chicken to dry for about half an hour.
Melt the shortening (I like using coconut oil, but any vegetable oil will do) in a large frying pan (cast-iron if you’re lucky enough to have one) with the butter. Allow it to get very hot. Add as much of the chicken as you can fit comfortably without crowding, turn the heat down to medium-high, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the pieces over, cover again and cook for another 10 minutes. Drain on a rack; if you don’t have one, torn-up paper bags or paper towels will serve well.
Cook remaining chicken in the same fashion. Add salt and pepper. Great hot — but just as good eaten cold.
Recipe and Image from My kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl (Murdoch Books)