1 1/2-2cupslard (can use shortening or oil depending on size of your skillet. Fat should rise up the sides about 1 inch.)
Heat up 8 cups of water, and then add 1/2 cup of salt. Either add ice cubes or chill the water until cool. When water is cool, add chicken pieces and submerge. Keep covered in the refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours.
Mix flour, remaining salt, and pepper and place in a paper bag. Place each piece of chicken in paper bag and shake until evenly coated with flour. Lay coated piece of chicken on a plate. Repeat until all pieces are coated.
Heat lard on high heat in a large cast-iron skillet (though if you don’t have one you can use any other kind of skillet as well) until temperature is 350°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, it should take about five minutes to reach that temperature. You can test the heat by throwing in a dollop of flour—if it floats and starts frying, the temperature is perfect; if the flour sinks to the bottom, the lard needs to heat up a few more minutes.
Place chicken pieces in the skillet skin-side down (they can be near each other, but shouldn’t overlap) and turn heat down to medium and cover the skillet. Fry on one side until golden brown (10-15 minutes), then remove the lid, turn the chicken with tongs, and fry other side 10 more minutes or until golden brown.
Stick an instant read thermometer in the largest piece, and check that it’s 165°F. If not, continue to cook for a couple more minutes.
When done, remove fried chicken from skillet with tongs, and drain for 10 minutes on a rack over a sheet pan or on paper towels or a paper bag. Serve immediately.
This method produces a very thin but crispy crust. If you want a super-thick crust, you can do a flour dredge, then dip it into buttermilk and then dredge in flour again. And go easy on the salt since the chicken will already be salty from the brine. If you desire, you can add herbs to your brine. If you want to do a buttermilk soak, place the pieces in a bowl and then submerge in buttermilk for at least eight hours. If you have the time and want to do both the salt-water and the buttermilk soak, do the salt-water first and then the buttermilk soak. If you need to fry in batches, you can keep the fried chicken warm in an oven set at 150 degrees. Just don’t leave it in the oven longer than 30 minutes or it will get too dry.