For the Brine:
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife
- 1 tsp. vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp. kosher salt
- 5 to 6 branches rosemary, each 4 to 5 inches long
- 4 1/2 c water
- 1 lemon, halved
For the Chicken:
- 8 chicken legs, drumsticks and thighs separated
- 3 c all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. sweet paprika
- 2 tbsp. fine sea salt
- 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp. baking powder
- 2 c buttermilk
- Neutral, high-heat oil for deep-frying (such as canola)
- Rosemary sprigs, for garnish
- To make the brine, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the kosher salt after the onion and garlic have cooked for 30 seconds or so. Add the rosemary and cook to heat it, 30 seconds or so. Add the water and lemon, squeezing the juice into the water and removing any seeds. Bring the water to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove the heat and allow the brine to cool. Refrigerate until chilled. To speed this process up, chill over an ice bath, stirring.
- Place all the chicken pieces in a large, sturdy plastic bag. Set the bag in a large bowl for support. Pour the cooled brine and aromatics into the bag. Seal the bag so that you remove as much as possible and the chicken is submerged in the brine. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and up to 24 hours, agitating the bag occasionally to redistribute the brine and the chicken.
- Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse under cold water, pat dry, and set on a rack or on paper towels. The chicken can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before you cook it, or it can be cooked immediately. Ideally, it should be refrigerated, uncovered, for a day to dry out the skin.
- Combine the flour, black pepper, paprika, sea salt, cayenne, and baking powder in a bowl. Whisk to distribute the ingredients. Divide this mixture between two bowls. Pour the buttermilk into a third bowl. Set a rack on a baking sheet.
- Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour, shake off the excess, and set the dusted pieces on the rack. Dip the pieces in the buttermilk, then dredge them aggressively in the second bowl of seasoned flour and return them to the rack.
- Heat the oil in a large, high-sided pot (filling it no more than one-third full with oil), for deep-frying to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add as many chicken pieces as you can without crowding the pan. Cook the chicken, turning the pieces occasionally, until they are golden brown and cooked through, 12-15 minutes depending on their size. Remove to a clean rack and allow them to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.