Fried Buttermilk-Brined Turkey

Southern fry your turkey this Thanksgiving. 

Fried Buttermilk-Brined Turkey
Makes about 10 servings
  • 1 (10- to 12-pound) whole turkey, thawed and giblets removed
  • 2 quarts whole buttermilk
  • ½ cup plus 1½ tablespoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Cranberry-Pecan Chutney (recipe follows)
  1. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. To remove backbone from turkey, cut along both sides of backbone with heavy-duty kitchen shears. Discard backbone.
  2. Turn turkey breast side up. Remove leg quarters; separate into thighs and drumsticks. Cut each breast half from bone. Remove and reserve tenderloins. Cut each breast half crosswise into 3 pieces. Cut wings at joints into two pieces. Discard wing tips if desired.
  3. In a large nonreactive container, combine buttermilk, ½ cup salt, and hot sauce. Add turkey, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. In a large cast-iron Dutch oven, pour oil to halfway full, and heat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360°.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray, and place on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  5. In a large bowl, combine flour, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and remaining 1½ tablespoons salt. Working with a few pieces at a time, remove turkey from buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip off. Dip each piece in flour mixture, shaking off excess.
  6. Working in batches, fry turkey breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Place on prepared pan.
  7. Bake until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°, about 20 minutes.
  8. Fry turkey wings and tenderloins, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes; let drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper. Serve with Cranberry-Pecan Chutney.
Need a shortcut? Have your butcher break down the whole turkey for you.

Cranberry-Pecan Chutney
Makes about 2 cups
  • 3 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ⅔ cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, granulated sugar, ½ cup water, celery, brown sugar, rosemary, salt, and red pepper to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until berries begin to burst and mixture begins to thicken, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pecans and vinegar. Serve at room temperature or chilled (mixture will continue to thicken as it cools).


Find more recipes perfect for the holidays in our newest issue of Taste of the South magazine.


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