The beautiful state of Maryland is usually synonymous with two things. #1) Blue crabs. And, #2) Maryland Fried Chicken. Incidentally, they usually go hand-in-hand together too. I don’t know a single crab house that doesn’t serve you a basket of fresh fried chicken before the crabs arrive (a feeble attempt to limit crab intake – don’t be a sucker). I was interested in what differentiates Maryland fried chicken, from a traditional Southern fried chicken. But, I couldn’t really find a straight answer anywhere.
So, I took the one thing that makes just about anything scream Maryland, and threw that into the mix. Old Bay! It’s such a great mix of spices; celery seed, paprika, chili pepper, allspice, and cardamom – just to name a few! I’ve always used it on my chicken that I throw on the grill, so why not fried chicken as well? I start the chicken off in a cast-iron skillet, and get a nice brown scald on it. Then I finished it off in the oven for about 15 minutes. I find that if I try to cook it all the way through in the cast-iron, it ends up getting browner than I’d like. This method produced tender, juicy results.
I’ve played around with several different variations, and this one is definitely a winner! I went all out and served it with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and buttermilk biscuits. Eat your heart out, Colonel Sanders.
Maryland Fried Chicken
1 frying chicken (3 lbs), cut into 8 pieces
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Old Bay
3 tsp kosher salt
canola or vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the buttermilk and 2 teaspoons salt. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight. When ready to fry, remove chicken from bowl and let sit on counter for 30 minutes to take chill off.
Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together the flour, Old Bay, and 1 teaspoon salt. Place in a gallon-sized resealable bag, and set aside.
Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat to 365F. Working in batches, place the chicken pieces into the flour mixture and shake the bag to coat, pressing to adhere. Add the chicken to the oil 3-4 pieces at a time.
Fry 5-7 minutes, checking to make sure chicken isn’t getting too brown. Turn, cover and cook additional 3-5 minutes more. Monitor temperature of oil to make sure chicken doesn’t burn. Keep in mind chicken will finish cooking in oven.
Place chicken on baking sheet and continue frying rest of chicken. When done, bake the chicken for 10-15 minutes, until chicken cooked through.
Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl