Life’s a Picnic

Delicious Cold Fried Chicken…

We’ve all heard the old saw, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” For the glass-half-empty folks, March means windy, unpredictable weather. But for the glass- half-full types, it is a month of promise and potential.

March, of course, is when many of us celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – and the ensuing hangover. We celebrate the vernal equinox, the first day of spring – although it’s not always so springlike. Sports fans look forward to March Madness and baseball’s spring training. Oh, and March is National Optimism Month, so let’s be glass-half-full types and think of sunshine, not gloomy days.

One way to channel your optimism is to plan a picnic. That’s right. The odds are good that there will be at least a handful of days pleasant enough to pack a basket of your favorite foods and beverages and head to your favorite park or beach for a March picnic. There’s something about eating alfresco that is comforting and intimate.

For my family, the ultimate picnic fare must include either potato salad or macaroni salad – and fried chicken made the night before. The crispiness and crunch of the chicken pairs perfectly with the creaminess of the potato or macaroni salad.

Why does fried chicken taste so delicious when served cold? Science. Here’s how the experts from the website Southern Kitchen describe it: “When fried chicken starts to cool down, the skin contracts and bonds itself to the meat. This process causes the top part of the skin to separate slightly from the crust, which prevents moisture absorption and sogginess, allowing the breading to maintain its satisfying chomp. Also, as the steam escapes the chicken, the moisture loss results in meat with greater density and a more pronounced ‘chicken-y’ flavor.”

This March, plan to head outside for a picnic. And don’t even think about ants or rain or anything else that might ruin the fun. Remember, March is the month we celebrate optimism! •


Servings: 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes


  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 21⁄2 T kosher salt (separated)
  • 4tsp.pepper(separated)
  • 2 whole chickens, cut into 8 pieces each
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 T hot paprika
  • 11⁄2tsp.onionpowder
  • 11⁄2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 6 cups canola oil

Step 1:
In a large bowl, whisk the buttermilk with 11⁄2 tablespoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper. Add chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2: In another large bowl, whisk the flour, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder with 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper.

Step 3: Spoon 1/4 cup of the buttermilk marinade into the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients.

Step 4: Remove 1 piece of chicken from the buttermilk marinade, allowing the excess liquid to drip back into the bowl. Dredge in the flour mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Important: Let stand for 30 minutes.

Step 5: Line a large baking sheet with paper towels and set a rack on top. In a large saucepan, heat the canola oil to 325 degrees. Fry the chicken in batches at around, turning occasionally, until golden, about 15-20 minutes per batch.

Step 6: Transfer to the rack to drain. Let cool, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

About Terry Olson

Terry loves culinary arts, adult beverages and hiking in the North State wilderness. You may find him soaking up the sun at one of our area’s many state or national parks or sitting on a barstool sipping on a cold locally brewed craft beer.

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