1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups peanut oil
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt


1. The morning of the day you plan to serve the chicken: Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper, place in a single layer in a shallow casserole dish, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Pour buttermilk over chicken and refrigerate until ready to cook.
2. To cook the chicken: In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat peanut oil to 350 degrees F. In a paper bag, combine flour, cornmeal, chili powder and salt. Working with 1 piece at a time, remove chicken from buttermilk and shake off any excess liquid. Place chicken in the paper bag, hold the top closed, and shake until chicken is well coated. Remove each piece as it is coated and set aside.
3. Add chicken pieces to hot oil, which should come halfway up sides of chicken pieces. Do not crowd the pan. (You may have to cook the chicken in 2 batches, or use 2 pans, varying the amount of oil to accommodate the amount of chicken in each pan.) Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pan. Cook chicken golden brown on one side, about 12 minutes, then turn, cover the pan, and cook another 12 minutes. When done, the internal temperature of the chicken should register 155 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer.
4. Remove chicken to a platter lined with paper towels. If you are cooking the chicken in batches, place the drained, cooked pieces on a foil-lined baking sheet and hold in a warm oven until all the pieces are cooked, then serve immediately.

This recipe comes from Kimball Jones, Executive Chef of Wente Vineyards and co-author with Carolyn Wente of "Sharing the Vineyard Table: A Celebration of Wine and Food from the Wente Vineyards Restaurant." Kimball feels that panfrying is the most flavorful way to cook chicken.

Pan Fried Chicken
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