When it comes to fried chicken, deep-frying is the only way to keep the batter where it belongs and evenly browned all over. The crust on this chicken literally shatters when you bite into it. And that's what I want inscribed on my tombstone, as it took me a lot of tries to get that effect. If you don't have Southern roots, or are unfamiliar with our region's gourmet traditions, try these with Waffles (page 25), a combo that will make your head explode. Other good sides are coleslaw, Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls (page 33), and even a sprinkle of crispy fried garlic (see sidebar). I've noticed that the brand of guar gum you use changes the consistency of this batter, and I recommend using the NOW brand here if possible. If you can't get your hands on it, just add more water and the recipe will still turn out perfectly. If you have any leftovers, just keep them in the fridge, well wrapped, and reheat them on a baking sheet in a 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Cold fried chicken is good, too, and room-temperature fried chicken, cut up, is a great topper for a salad.
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To fry the chicken, in a large skillet (or, alternatively, in a deep-fryer), heat the oil over medium heat until it registers 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) on a deep-fry thermometer. Line a platter with paper towels, or line a baking sheet with a brown paper bag.
Remove the chicken pieces from the brine and pat them dry very well with paper towels. Set them aside on a platter.
In a large bowl, combine the Donut & Fritter Blend, paprika, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and cayenne to taste (for a barely there vibration, use just 1/8 teaspoon). Whisk until they are well blended, cover, and let stand for at least 5 minutes. The flavors will be at their best if they have time to get acquainted.
Divide the dry ingredients evenly into two bowls. Into one bowl, whisk 3 cups (720 ml) water and stir to combine until the batter is lump free. The batter should be the consistency of a loose custard. If it looks like thick pudding, just whisk in some additional water, a few tablespoons at a time, until you have the consistency you need.
Roll the chicken pieces in the bowl with the dry ingredients, then dunk them in the wet mixture, and finally roll them in the dry ingredients again. Place the battered chicken on a platter or large baking sheet as you coat the other pieces.
Put just a few pieces of chicken into the oil at a time, cooking big pieces together and small pieces together. This way, each batch will be finished at the same time and you won't be overcooking smaller pieces or undercooking larger ones. Keep that oil hot, so the batter fries fast and doesn't absorb the oil. Fry the chicken pieces until they're golden brown and crispy, 12 to 15 minutes for breast halves and thighs, 8 to 10 minutes for legs, and 7 to 8 for wings. Using tongs, transfer the fried chicken pieces to the brown bag or paper towel-lined platter to drain the excess oil.
Serve the chicken any old way you please!
Slice a few garlic cloves thinly and heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (a drop of water should sizzle when it hits the oil), add the garlic and fry until it is golden brown and crispy, watching carefully to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and drain it on a paper towel-lined plate.