Eighty degrees Monday, tornadoes on Tuesday, and snow on Friday is a regular weather cycle around here lately.  That's Iowa weather for you.  When the weather, and just life in general, feels all jumbled and out of sorts, comfort food is the best medicine.  The calm familiarity of putting the pieces together of a dish that has happy feelings tied up in it is such good therapy.  If I'm down, making stirred custard from the recipe that my mom would make for me as a kid, just like her mom made for her as a kid, is like getting a warm hug from them both.  If you've never had still-hot homemade custard fresh from the stove, you. are. missing. out. Oh, crap.  And now I will have to make a post for that recipe to legitimize the fact that I will absolutely make and eat an entire batch of said custard tonight.   Update: amazing stirred custard recipe post coming as soon as I roll myself to the computer and type it out with my sticky fingers.

Where was I?  Comfort food!  Stirred custard, casseroles, gravy on everything, and... the King of all Comfort Food: Fried Chicken.  I don't claim that this is the best recipe for it, but it's pretty good.  You can change things around all you'd like as far as spices go, but I think that you absolutely need the buttermilk marinade.  It's a bit of a combination recipe from all of the researching I did on making good fried chicken.  Vodka helps the crust to crisp, buttermilk and salt marinade for juicy chicken, corn meal for a little crunch, etc.

Happy Fried Chicken-ing!  Swimsuit weather is really far away, right?  So I'm good...maybe... I think.  Probably just eat more pudding and it will all be okay.

1c. buttermilk
3 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
2 tsp. salt
1 T. vodka

Dry mix:
1c. flour
1/2 c. corn meal
1/2 c. cornstarch
1 T. cracked black pepper
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 egg
3 lbs. chicken (4 breasts or 6 thighs, etc.)
oil for frying

Combine the brine ingredients  with chicken and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight in covered bowl.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Remove chicken from refrigerator and set pieces aside. Whisk egg into brine and return chicken pieces to brine mixture to coat.  Dip each piece into the dry mixture, then the brine mixture, then one more time in the dry mixture.  Let rest for five minutes after coating.  Preheat oil to 300'F while chicken is resting.

Shake off excess flour mixture and fry the chicken for 16-20 minutes or until done.
Turn once in the pan about half way through cooking if you'd like.  I like to mess with things while I'm cooking and it would be torture not to.  Don't know if you need to do this, I just always do 'cause I can't help myself.

Let rest on a raised rack for 5 minutes to drain excess oil before serving.

So ridiculously juicy!  Also, I like to serve it with spicy cole slaw, but whatever side suits your fancy is great.  Greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, custard...

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