Marinating your chicken in buttermilk is the right way to start any fried-chicken recipe. Why? The buttermilk begins to break down the protein in the meat, making it more tender when it’s cooked. It also opens up a great opportunity to infuse some flavor—like garlic or even a little hot sauce—into your chicken. You can marinate it for just a short time (around 30 minutes or so) or up to 8 hours. In general, the longer the better—just don’t let it go too long or your meat will end up with a mushy texture.