Rancher’s Famous Homemade Fried Chicken

Sharing Clay’s Famous Homemade Fried Chicken recipe just in time for 4th of July! Clay makes this recipe a few times each summer for picnics at the Benedict Music Tent in Aspen – Clay fries the chicken and I’ll make all the sides.  I will share the recipes for my slaw and potato salad separately to round out your summer feast!

A few random pics from music tent picnics…

As a Registered Dietitian, and just a generally health conscious human, I don’t eat very much fried food.  I NEVER eat fast food – don’t think I have had Chick -Fil-A since undergrad (about 15 years ago), so when I do indulge, I want to MAKE SURE it is worth it!  And I GUARANTEE this fried chicken is worth every last calorie.

 Keep in mind frying is an art form (and I also think an essential culinary skill), so don’t get deterred if it is not perfect the first time – it will still be good, I promise!  I tried to include all of Clay’s tips and tricks in the recipe below, but please leave a comment if you have any questions.

Recipe card is below, but I’m going to include recipe in a different format here too as I think it may be a little easier to follow.

Rancher’s Famous Homemade Fried Chicken

For the brine

Ingredients

  • 2 gallons of water
  • 20 ounces of coarse kosher salt (use a kitchen scale to measure)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 6 lemons, cut in half
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half along the equator
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 handful of black peppercorns

Directions

  • Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil
  • Boil for one minute and then let cool
  • Place pot in fridge and bring temp down to fridge temp before putting chicken in brine

For the seasoned flour

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of flour – YOU WILL GET THE BEST RESULTS IF YOU USE WHITE LILY FLOUR (either self-rising or regular). This will create a light and crispy batter.
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ tablespoon ground pepper

Directions

  • In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients together until very well mixed

For the buttermilk

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce

Directions

  • In a second large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well to combine

For the chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 whole fryer chickens (about 3 pounds each – do not buy big roasting chickens)
  • 2 packages of chicken tenders (about 1 pound each) – should be about 15 tenders
  • Peanut oil

Directions

  • Break the whole chickens down into 8 or 10 pieces each (there are many videos on YouTube about how to break down a whole chicken)
  • Put the chicken pieces and the tenders into the brine for 6-12 hours
  • Take the chicken out of the brine, wash with cold water and dry with paper towels
  • Let the chicken get to room temperature. YOU DO NOT WANT TO FRY ICE COLD CHICKEN AS IT WILL LOWER THE OIL TEMPERATURE WHICH WILL RESULT IN OILY/SOGGY CHICKEN
  • While you are waiting for the chicken to get to room temperature, prepare the buttermilk and flour mixtures
  • Combine about 3 cups of buttermilk with about 2 teaspoons of a Louisiana hot sauce, stir well to combine
  • Combine all the seasoned flour ingredients and whisk well to combine. Using a measuring cup take out ½ of the seasoned flour and set aside, this way you will have fresh dry seasoned flour to use for the 2ndhalf of the chicken
  • Dip each piece of chicken in the buttermilk mixture, allow excess to drip off and then dredge the piece in the seasoned flour.Set aside and repeat this process with all pieces of chicken (THE TRICK IS TO USE ONE HAND FOR THE WET PROCESS AND ONE HAND FOR THE DRY SO THAT YOU DON’T END UP WITH A HUGE AMOUNT OF FLOUR CAKED TO YOUR FINGERS)
  • Heat the peanut oil in a large cast iron pot – you want about 2 inches of oil, do not fill oil past ½ way up the side of the cooking vessel
  • Use a candy/frying thermometer or a digital thermometer to regulate the temperature of the oil
  • FRY THE CHICKEN IN BATCHES – DO NOT ATTEMPT TO COOK MORE THAN 4 – 5 PIECES AT A TIME. THE WORST SIN IN CHICKEN FRYING IS ATTEMPTING TO FRY TOO MUCH CHICKEN AT ONE TIME. Clay cooks the 4 thighs, then the 4 drumsticks, then the 4 breasts, then the 4 wings, and then the tenders about 5 at a time in a few batches. Do not mix different parts of the chicken when frying as the different types of meat takes different amounts of time and heat to cook properly
  • The oil should be heated a little above the target frying temp (~15 degrees) prior to starting to fry each batch of chicken as the temperature will drop when you add the chicken to the oil (TURN THE HEAT TO FULL HIGH JUST BEFORE ADDING THE CHICKEN SO THAT IT COUNTERACTS THE TEMPERATURE DROP FROM THE COLDER MEAT BEING ADDED TO THE OIL)
  • See below chart for approximate cooking temperatures and times
  • When the chicken is done frying place it on a wire rack above a cookie sheet to rest while the rest of the chicken is cooking.It can rest on the stovetop or in an oven on low

 

Type Target Oil Temp Time
Thighs 330 F 10 – 12 mins
Drumsticks 330 F 8  mins
Wings 340 F 6 mins
Breasts 340 F 8 mins
Tenders 350 F 4-5 mins

 

Print

Rancher’s Famous Homemade Fried Chicken

  • Author: ThePetitePiglet
  • Yield: 35 pieces of chicken

Ingredients

For the brine

  • 2 gallons of water
  • 20 ounces of coarse kosher salt (use a kitchen scale to measure)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 6 lemons, cut in half
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half along the equator
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 handful of black peppercorns

For the seasoned flour

  • 6 cups of flour – YOU WILL GET THE BEST RESULTS IF YOU USE WHITE LILY FLOUR (either self-rising or regular). This will create a light and crispy batter.
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ tablespoon ground pepper

For the buttermilk

  • 3 – 4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce

For the chicken

  • 2 whole fryer chickens (about 3 pounds each – do not buy big roasting chickens)
  • 2 packages of chicken tenders (about 1 pound each) – should be about 15 tenders
  • Peanut oil

Instructions

For the brine

  • Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil
  • Boil for one minute and then let cool
  • Place pot in fridge and bring temp down to fridge temp before putting chicken in brine

For the seasoned flour

  • In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients together until very well mixed

For the buttermilk

  • In a second large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well to combine

For the chicken

  • Break the whole chickens down into 8 or 10 pieces each (there are many videos on YouTube about how to break down a whole chicken)
  • Put the chicken pieces and the tenders into the brine for 6-12 hours
  • Take the chicken out of the brine, wash with cold water and dry with paper towels
  • Let the chicken get to room temperature. YOU DO NOT WANT TO FRY ICE COLD CHICKEN AS IT WILL LOWER THE OIL TEMPERATURE WHICH WILL RESULT IN OILY/SOGGY CHICKEN
  • While you are waiting for the chicken to get to room temperature, prepare the buttermilk and flour mixtures
  • Combine about 3 cups of buttermilk with about 2 teaspoons of a Louisiana hot sauce, stir well to combine
  • Combine all the seasoned flour ingredients and whisk well to combine. Using a measuring cup take out ½ of the seasoned flour and set aside, this way you will have fresh dry seasoned flour to use for the 2ndhalf of the chicken
  • Dip each piece of chicken in the buttermilk mixture, allow excess to drip off and then dredge the piece in the seasoned flour.Set aside and repeat this process with all pieces of chicken (THE TRICK IS TO USE ONE HAND FOR THE WET PROCESS AND ONE HAND FOR THE DRY SO THAT YOU DON’T END UP WITH A HUGE AMOUNT OF FLOUR CAKED TO YOUR FINGERS)
  • Heat the peanut oil in a large cast iron pot – you want about 2 inches of oil, do not fill oil past ½ way up the side of the cooking vessel
  • Use a candy/frying thermometer or a digital thermometer to regulate the temperature of the oil
  • FRY THE CHICKEN IN BATCHES – DO NOT ATTEMPT TO COOK MORE THAN 4 – 5 PIECES AT A TIME. THE WORST SIN IN CHICKEN FRYING IS ATTEMPTING TO FRY TOO MUCH CHICKEN AT ONE TIME. Clay cooks the 4 thighs, then the 4 drumsticks, then the 4 breasts, then the 4 wings, and then the tenders about 5 at a time in a few batches. Do not mix different parts of the chicken when frying as the different types of meat takes different amounts of time and heat to cook properly
  • The oil should be heated a little above the target frying temp (~15 degrees) prior to starting to fry each batch of chicken as the temperature will drop when you add the chicken to the oil (TURN THE HEAT TO FULL HIGH JUST BEFORE ADDING THE CHICKEN SO THAT IT COUNTERACTS THE TEMPERATURE DROP FROM THE COLDER MEAT BEING ADDED TO THE OIL)
  • See below chart for approximate cooking temperatures and times
  • When the chicken is done frying place it on a wire rack above a cookie sheet to rest while the rest of the chicken is cooking.It can rest on the stovetop or in an oven on low
Type Target Oil Temp Time
Thighs 330 F 10 – 12 mins
Drumsticks 330 F 8  mins
Wings 340 F 6 mins
Breasts 340 F 8 mins
Tenders 350 F 4-5 mins

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