Monday, May 9, 2011

Fried Chicken -- Does Life Get Any Better?

Fried chicken has been on my mind of late. On a recent trip to New York City I experienced a midnight fried chicken dinner at Momofuku that I had to reserve a month in advance. A few days later at a Southern food summit hosted by Garden & Gun magazine right here in Charleston, the subject of fried chicken came up repeatedly as we discussed exactly what constitutes Southern food.

And our own fried chicken dinner on Tuesdays here at the GO grows in popularity each week. In fact, we plan to institute a Momofuku-esque policy...from now on we encourage guests to call and reserve their fried chicken in advance so that we can better meet and gauge the demand.

If you are ambitious enough to fry chicken at home -- I will share our secret recipe, but first I must share its evolution. Growing up in Georgia I loved home fried chicken but always had to be in the right place at the right time as there was definitely no one frying chicken at my house! (Luckily, a very special lady named Maudell could usually be talked into cooking up a batch when I spent the night with my good friend Leah.)

Once I began teaching myself to cook I tackled fried chicken almost immediately with the idea that I could then eat home fried chicken any time I pleased. However, once I realized the nuance required to yield perfectly fried chicken I wavered a bit.

Several years later while testing recipes for Emeril Lagasse I set out on my mission again and came up with my basic technique. Over the years I have tweaked the recipe this way and that, but I finally feel that I have my own fried chicken, and we serve the restaurant version of that at the Glass Onion. Call and reserve yours for tomorrow (843-225-1717)! Or see how the recipe works in your kitchen!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

We believe that ours is extra special because we use all-natural chickens. These days it is not overly difficult or expensive to find such birds, and we swear you can taste the difference.

Vegetable oil for frying
1 buttermilk-brined chicken (see recipe below)
2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne

Heat 4 inches of oil to 325 degrees in a large pot.

Combine self-rising flour, all-purpose flour, salt, black pepper, white pepper, and cayenne in a brown paper grocery bag. (Two bags -- one inside the other -- ensures no blowouts!)

Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and shake to remove excess. Add the chicken in batches to the flour mixture (in the bag) and shake to completely coat. Remove and shake over trash can to remove excess flour. (Alternatively, you could simply combine the flour/seasoning in a shallow baking dish and dredge the chicken pieces through it. However, the paper bag method thoroughly coats the chicken and, in my opinion, happens to be more fun!)

Place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to rest until ready to fry, at least 30 minutes. (Allowing the chicken to rest after flouring ensures that the flour will better adhere to the chicken during the frying process.)

Fry the chicken in batches, skin-side down, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Turn and fry until golden brown on the second side and cooked through, about 8 minutes longer. Remove and drain on paper towel-lined sheet pan.

An instant-read thermometer should read 165 degrees when chicken is probed. If your chicken happens to be slightly under, you can finish it in the oven at 350 degrees.

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings

P.S. Don’t be intimidated by this recipe -- just allow yourself time to brine and time to fry. The good thing about fried chicken is that it tastes really good at room temperature. So unlike fried seafood, you could do all the work in advance and sit down to enjoy the feast with your friends/family without forsaking flavor!

P.P.S. An even oil temperature is key to frying at home. A clip-on candy/fry thermometer should be kept in the pot at all times, and the temperature should register at least 300 degrees during the frying process.)


1 quart buttermilk
1/4 cup hot sauce
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 1 large garlic clove)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4-pounds) cut into 8 serving pieces

Combine buttermilk, hot sauce, salt, garlic, black pepper, and cayenne in a large bowl; stir to combine. Add chicken pieces and make sure all are submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.


  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!! I've never made fried chicken myself, but the GO has given me inspiration to try (even though it'll never compete with Tuesday nights at the restaurant)!

  2. Haha! Thanks Sara! I will be interested to see how you feel the recipe works...give me your feedback!

  3. Since you specify skin-side down I'll assume you pan fry rather than deep fry the chicken, right? How much oil should there be? Halfway up the chicken?

  4. We lived around the corner from the GO for three years, but have been living in Arkansas for a year now. I made this chicken tonight for some friends, and it was amazing. Helped ease my pangs of missing Charleston, and whetted my appetite for some good food from the GO when we come back to visit in October.

  5. Sorry for the late replies -- but yes, we fry in a huge pot at the restaurant. Since, it is so big it is more similar to deep frying than pan frying. And at home I use an old cast iron Dutch oven that just looks perfect! However, neither of these pots regulate temperature like a true deep frier -- so hence you need to watch your thermometer carefully. And since it is a pot and not a shallow pan I do not worry about whether it is skin side down. I just try to make sure the chicken cooks evenly on all sides, turning as necessary. And to erniebufflo -- can't wait to see you in October! The cookbook will be out!