A platter of this crispy, tender, golden brown chicken would be a hit at almost any potluck or picnic. Immersing the chicken pieces in the buttermilk brine for several hours gives the chicken loads of flavor and helps keep the meat moist as it fries.
4 cups Buttermilk
Fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons rosemary
2 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Whole chicken (cut up about 3 1/3 pounds)
Canola oil for deep frying
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup salt
To make the buttermilk brine, in a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 1/3 cup salt. In a mortar, crush together the oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage with a pestle (or pulse in a spice grinder) until finely ground. Whisk the ground herbs, garlic, and cayenne pepper into the buttermilk mixture. Cute the chicken into 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, and 2 breast halves, reserving the back and giblets for another use. Cut each breast half crosswise to make 4 breast portions, for a total of 10 chicken pieces. Add the butter milk brine, making sure that the chicken is submerged. (If it isn't, transfer everything to a smaller bowl) or plastic zip lock bag. Cover and refrigerate for a least 4 to 6 hours.
Pour oil to a depth of at least 3 inches into a large, heavy saucepan and heat over high heat to 350 degrees on a deep frying thermometer. Set a large wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and place near the stove. Have ready a second rimmed baking sheet. While the oil is heating, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Remove half of the chicken from the buttermilk brine, letting the excess brine drip back into the bowl. Add the chicken to the flour mixture and toss to coat evenly, then transfer to the second baking sheet.
When the oil is ready, in batches to avoid crowding, carefully slip the chicken pieces into the hot oil. The temperature will drop, but adjust the heat to keep the oil bubbling steadily at about 325 degrees. Deep fry the chicken pieces, turning them occasionally with tongs, until they are golden brown and show no sign of pink when pierced at the thickest part, about 12 minutes. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the chicken to the rack to drain. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve warm.
To make gravy:
After frying the chicken, in a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil over medium heat. Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour, simmer for 1 minute, then whisk in 2 cups heated half and half or mild. Bring to a oil, then simmer until thickened about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice and your chicken.