2 (3- to 3 ½- pound) organic chickens
2 bunches fresh rosemary
2 bunches fresh thyme
2 bunches fresh sage
10 fresh bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
For dredging and frying:
1 quart buttermilk
1 tablespoon hot sauce (we like Crystal or Tabasco)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 gallon grapeseed or canola oil
1 head of garlic
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rice flour
½ cup garlic powder
½ cup onion powder
1/3 cup kosher salt
¼ cup freshly ground black pepper
Flaky sea salt, for serving
Freshly ground black pepper, for serving
4 lemons, cut into wedges, for serving
1. Roast the chickens: Preheat the oven to 200 F. Strip the herbs from the tough stems. Roughly chop one-third each of the rosemary, thyme, and sage, along with half of the bay leaves and the garlic (set remaining herbs and bay leaves aside for frying the chicken). In a small bowl combine the chopped herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil to make a paste. Rub the mixture on the birds so the herbs stick to the skin. Place the seasoned birds in a roasting pan and put in the oven.
2. After 2 ½ hours, remove the chicken from the oven. The internal temperature between the breast and the thigh near the bone should be 150°F. At this stage, the chicken is cooked three-quarters of the way through. Let cool enough so you can handle.
3. Cut the parcooked chickens into 10 pieces: cut off the wings, the legs, and the thighs and cut the breast pieces in half. (Save the carcasses for stock). Put the buttermilk in a large bowl and season with hot sauce and sugar. Add the chicken pieces to the buttermilk and let sit 30 minutes at room temperature (the chicken can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated, in the buttermilk, overnight).
4. Pour the oil into a large, heavy pot, making sure there is at least 3 inches of clearance over the level of the oil. Break apart the head of garlic into cloves, but do not peel the cloves. Turn the heat on medium-high, and add the garlic cloves, remaining rosemary, thyme, sage, and bay leaves to the oil. As the oil heats, the herbs and garlic will perfume the oil. When the herbs are crisp and the garlic is a light golden brown (about 10 to 15 minutes), remove from the oil with a spider and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
5. While the oil heats, prepare the dredge: Combine the flours, garlic powder, onion powder, 1/3 cup salt, and ¼ cup black pepper in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk (do not dry) and dredge each piece of chicken well in flour mixture. Discard the buttermilk and remaining flour mixture.
6. When the oil reaches 375°F, add half of the chicken to the oil and fry, turning the pieces occasionally, until all of the pieces are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a flattened paper bag to drain. Let the oil return to temperature and fry the remaining chicken as directed above. When all of the chicken has been fried and drained, transfer to a platter or wooden cutting board and season with flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pile the fried herbs and garlic on top of the chicken and serve with wedges of lemon alongside.