Best Fried Chicken Ever
January 19, 2010 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Interested in making the Best Fried Chicken Ever? You'd start with a brine, perhaps the one Thomas Keller uses, which has lemon, honey, herbs and peppercorns. Harlem's master chicken fryer Charles Gabriel prefers a dry brine and the legendary Edna Lewis would have you brine the chicken a second time in buttermilk.

All three would have you dredge the chicken in seasoned flour (perhaps with a little cornstarch for extra crispiness). Gabriel adds a special secret seasoning mix, but Keller uses garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and paprika and has you dredge in buttermilk and flour twice. Lewis uses just salt and pepper, but suggests frying a slice of country ham in the oil and sweet butter that you will soon after cook the chicken in. Pick the recipe you like best, or take tips from each, and enjoy the best fried chicken you've ever made!
posted by AceRock (47 comments total) 114 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holllee shit! I would kill for a piece of fried chicken right now (and I mean real fried chicken - none of that fecal KFC crap). Keller's recipe looks particularly mouth watering. Great post - perfect little afternoon pick me up.
posted by helmutdog at 3:45 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great idea AceRock, we'll be having this for dinner tomorrow.
posted by ouke at 3:52 PM on January 19, 2010


Brine? In buttermilk? How much salt is in buttermilk?
posted by Malor at 3:56 PM on January 19, 2010


Oh Edna Lewis, how I love you.
posted by ifjuly at 3:57 PM on January 19, 2010


One adds salt to the buttermilk (I forget how much). It is goddamn AMAZING. It keeps the meat from drying out while cooking.

I recently made fried chicken at home for the second time ever. Things that made it good were 1) including baking powder in the dredging mix, for increased puffiness of breading, and 2) adding enough buttermilk to the dredging mix to make it a little lumpy. Helps it stick.

If it didn't use so much oil and wasn't such hell on my arteries, I'd make it every couple months.
posted by cereselle at 4:00 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


My grandad an old mississipian farmer duplicates the Charles' recipe, a dry brine. It's so good make you jump back and kiss youself ten dozen times, hoo haw!
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 4:00 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I absolutely love the fact that Edna Lewis' recipe calls for half a cup of ham that you slowly heat just to extract the fat from to fry the chicken with. It's almost like frying chicken in bacon grease!
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 4:01 PM on January 19, 2010


You could also make John Currence's fried chicken, which is brined in Coca-Cola.
posted by neroli at 4:05 PM on January 19, 2010


My granny always soaked her chicken a few hours in buttermilk before she cooked it.
posted by vronsky at 4:06 PM on January 19, 2010


grumble grumble "dry brine" grumble. I think those old guys just call it seasoning.

The crust falls off mine alot of the time. I need to figure out what I am doing wrong.
posted by cabingirl at 4:08 PM on January 19, 2010


God damn you, AceRock, I'm supposed to be on a diet.

As a Canadian I'm slightly haunted by the fear that I've never had "real" fried chicken, but I always thought Chicken In The Rough (there's one in Port Huron, Michigan, across the river from where I grew up) was pretty good. At the very least, you can't beat their sign (I love how the chicken is smoking).
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:11 PM on January 19, 2010


I ate at Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken on Friday and I'm still thinking about that chicken.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:12 PM on January 19, 2010


I.LOVE.YOU.
posted by nola at 4:21 PM on January 19, 2010


Yay! Fried chicken thread! Here's mine!
posted by squalor at 4:27 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know who else loves fried chicken? EVERYBODY! (Thank you, Fabrice Fabrice)
posted by garisimo at 4:35 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like a buttermilk and Tabasco brine. It really pushes it over the top.
posted by OmieWise at 4:56 PM on January 19, 2010


Don't you know that mentioning fried chicken is racist!
Thanks for the tips, I'll be making some tonight.
posted by bystander at 5:02 PM on January 19, 2010


No lie, this is the best chicken ever. Plus massive walls of flame! (Self link flickr set. Don't batter and fry me.) Campfire fried chicken. Butter milk marinade. Free range chicken. Tabasco in the butter milk.
posted by Keith Talent at 5:07 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brine? In buttermilk? How much salt is in buttermilk?

Agreed, Malor, but to be fair: the article doesn't use that phrase (it refers to a "soak" in buttermilk; I'd call it a marinade, but that's no nevermind).

Not sure what's up with all this "dry brine" wording, either; smokers, barbecuers, and other keepers of sacred meat-preserving techniques normally call it a "dry rub".
posted by IAmBroom at 5:07 PM on January 19, 2010


Yeah I guess its more a of a soak or a marinade than a brine in buttermilk. The "dry brine" I think is correct (see Judy Rodgers of the Zuni Cafe). My understanding is that it is intended to have a similar effect as a wet brine, letting the salt work its way into the meat and change its cell structure, while a rub is primarily used to add flavor.
posted by AceRock at 5:29 PM on January 19, 2010


Thomas Keller is a genius, but I wouldn't eat his take on Soul Food. That's pretty much the definition of self defeating.
posted by bardic at 5:36 PM on January 19, 2010


Thomas Keller is a genius, but I wouldn't eat his take on Soul Food. That's pretty much the definition of self defeating.
posted by bardic at 5:36 PM on January 19


His fried chicken nights at Ad Hoc are legendary.
posted by Keith Talent at 6:01 PM on January 19, 2010


I tried the Thomas Keller recipe a couple weeks ago. His Brine really made all the difference, with the rosemary and thyme flavors really soaking into the meat.
posted by highgene at 6:11 PM on January 19, 2010


This "sous vide" concept is a revelation - never heard of that before. Brilliant, can't wait to try this.
posted by jbickers at 6:25 PM on January 19, 2010


garlic powder, onion powder

Seriously, I only see these ingredients in American recipes. Why? Why, dear god, why? Not everything was meant to be powdered! These ingredients are an abomination.
posted by smoke at 6:43 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just, whatever you do, don't eat it at the cricket!
posted by pompomtom at 6:44 PM on January 19, 2010


I dunno, smoke, this guy makes it seem pretty reasonable.
posted by kenko at 7:11 PM on January 19, 2010


Man I am flat out if I can even be arsed to microwave a tin of soup and pay enough attention while eating to stop it slopping down the front of my shirt.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:18 PM on January 19, 2010


I would like to point out that my early death will be a direct result of the incredible fried chicken my sharecropper's-daughter-never-went-to-high-school-died-last-year grandmother made: she fried the chicken in super-heated liquid lard. Oh. So. Good.
posted by jefficator at 7:24 PM on January 19, 2010


The Chicago Tribune recently ran this article on the popularity of "fried chicken nights" at various restaurants around town.
posted by hwestiii at 7:25 PM on January 19, 2010


If you want to try Thomas Keller's fried chicken recipe that he uses at Ad Hoc, you can buy a kit from Williams Sonoma
posted by dnesan at 7:36 PM on January 19, 2010


More Edna Lewis love: a 20 minute documentary about her life
posted by AceRock at 7:49 PM on January 19, 2010


you can buy a kit from Williams Sonoma

Wow, a bag of white flour for fifteen dollars. Gotta love Williams-Sonoma.
posted by neroli at 8:28 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


@ smoke

"garlic powder, onion powder

...These ingredients are an abomination."


No moisture to contend with, no salt, high potency, doesn't alter texture, a kick-ass aid in emulsification. Methinks your hatred is misguided.

It's like getting pissed over "paprika powder" or "cumin powder."
posted by sourwookie at 10:00 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have never made home-made fried chicken. Now is a good time to start.
posted by molecicco at 1:30 AM on January 20, 2010


Seriously, I only see these ingredients in American recipes. Why? Why, dear god, why?

Because you haven't looked very hard?

Sorry - I just realised you didn't really want to know, you were just kicking Yanks for made-up reasons.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:32 AM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


onion powder [is] an abomination

Are you also opposed to dried cranberries, apricots, and tomatoes? Only an asshole would be opposed to dried tomatoes.
posted by ryanrs at 2:51 AM on January 20, 2010


Oh cool (or should that be "drool"?)...

I made fried chicken this weekend - it felt like the right thing to go with the NFL divisional playoffs - and went with this recipe from Momofuku (though served it with more traditional accompaniments instead of the octo vinaigrette). The key difference - steaming the chicken before frying it (which hadn't ocurred to me before, despite the fact that I adopted the same practise with wings following AB's recipe on Good Eats). I have to say I thought I'd chanced upon fried-chicken perfection - moist on the inside, with skin so crispy it rustled - but next time I'll definitely try Chef Keller's brine. And this whole bacon grease thing sounds worth a shot, too.
posted by kxr at 4:54 AM on January 20, 2010


I'll have four fried chickens. And a Coke.
posted by Reverend John at 6:03 AM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I usually put things like this on the green, but:

soak the chicken in milk for a couple hours (sadly, no access to buttermilk in Japan), then remove, letting the excess drip off. Add some of the chicken milk to 2 or 3 eggs, depending on the amount of chicken. Into the eggs, add salt, pepper, garlic powder and creole seasoning (Zatarains or the like).

In another bowl, mix flour with more salt, more pepper, more garlic, more creole, oregano and some chilli powder. When I mention adding spices, I mean by the metric fuck-ton. The flavor can be easily overwhelmed during the frying, so go big, or just don't.

Dredged the chicken in the flour, shake excess, dip in egg, drip off excess, then flour again. fry. Place finished chicken on a wire rack to allow grease to drip off and to prevent soggification cause by contact with anything. Acceptable dipping sauces include Indonesian sambal sauce, honey, or possibly ketchup. In case of weakness or numbness in the left arm, call your local emergency number and forget who told you the recipe.

Oh, and crisco really does make a difference. Much crispier happiness.

Beer can be used in place of milk, whisked with only egg whites for a fluffier fishnchips kind of batter. Tabasco added to the liquid is never a bad thing.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:58 AM on January 20, 2010


Just throwing this out here; but have any of y'all tried frying chicken with potato, rice, millet, heck, any gluten-free flour instead of wheat?

I've been living the wheat free lifestyle for awhile now and have just avoided fried chicken. I've slowly been working my way back into the use of flour substitutes for baking but so far in cooking the breading just hasn't been "right".

Anyone? Bueller?
posted by cavalier at 8:57 AM on January 20, 2010


any gluten-free flour instead of wheat?

The Taiwanese make amazing fried chicken without wheat flour. I've never cooked it, but love it in restaurants. Here's a recipe I found that uses corn starch and sweet potato flour.
posted by neroli at 9:03 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, this is why I love you guys. Google didn't see this -- thanks!
posted by cavalier at 9:06 AM on January 20, 2010


cavalier, this recipe uses rice flour
posted by AceRock at 9:43 AM on January 20, 2010


I just tried some at a hole in the wall in Nevada that was sauteed in Sage. Delicious. Not gonna knock brine until I try it.
posted by MikeFrankel at 7:28 AM on January 21, 2010


Just throwing this out here; but have any of y'all tried frying chicken with potato, rice, millet, heck, any gluten-free flour instead of wheat?
I've not done it, but on Iron Chef I saw one of the chefs using popcorn as the flour for, I think, something deep fried. Supposedly to give it a really light and fluffy texture.
posted by ydant at 1:31 PM on January 22, 2010


Only an asshole would be opposed to dried tomatoes.

Count me in then. I am not a picky eater by any standard--I will pretty much eat and enjoy on some level anything short of what will poison/endanger/physically harm me (i.e., fugu). Even cilantro, which tastes soapy to me as one of those genetic freaks, I will eat just fine and even enjoy in the context of an otherwise fantastic Mexican meal. I love ostrich, tongue, Eastern Sudanese banana paste, smoky bacon ice cream, kim chi, bacalao, sauerkraut and sauerbraten, rhubarb, every vegetable imaginable, the spiciest food you can make for me, all those East Asian fruits...

But no. The only thing with a flavor I think is irredeemable is that most '90s of gourmet trends, the sun dried tomato. I felt such relief when a fellow food-freak mentioned offhand it was the only thing for him, too. And yes, normally I love umami and salty flavors and all that. And it pains me too, because thought it fell by the wayside this decade it still lingers in delicious places, bumming me out. My favorite food blogger (Orangette yah) has a recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes that come out looking like their sun dried siblings and it makes me sad it's the one thing I'll never make from her.
posted by ifjuly at 12:56 PM on January 25, 2010


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