WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!

Don’t have tickets to Bubba, this week’s three-night southern food pop-up restaurant at Hoyt Sherman Place? You’re not alone – the thing is sold out with a waiting list! But don’t get too down about it – try this recipe out for a little “southern hospitality” at home.

In some circles, the phrase “Winner winner chicken dinner,” is used to down-play a first-place finish. But today I am going to share a chicken dinner recipe that can be fantastic if it is done with some good ole kitchen lovin!

Two of my favorite Southern foods: Fried chicken and biscuits.

Fried chicken! If these words alone don’t get you excited, I can’t help you. The mere thought of fried chicken gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. But here’s a key fact: fried chicken is not an easy dish. Making it correctly takes attention and dedication; you can always tell that difference in the first bite.

Fried chicken is said to be rooted in Scottish immigrants who moved to the southern United States. Over the years, the approach evolved and people began adding seasoning and hot sauce. Some folks began serving it with country gravy and (if you’re lucky) collard greens. (I must have been a southerner in another life; that’s the most logical explanation for my intense love of southern cuisine!)

Before getting started, there’s something I’d like you to know: all the recipes I share are from my personal collection. These represent dishes I actually make in the way that I make them. That leads to a pet peeve of mine: I understand the need for the home cook to replicate recipes at home. But even if you have no intention of making a particular recipe, I feel that there is a benefit to knowing the correct way to do something. It gives you a little insight into the larger world of cooking and the care that goes into creating outstanding food.

I’m going to give you the best of the best, the real-deal recipes of those iconic foods I know and love – from burgers and hot dogs to tacos, pizza, fried chicken and more. So, without further ado, here’s my best fried chicken recipe. I promise that this will rival any chicken you can find anywhere!

Behold a winning batch of fried chicken.

Winner Winner Fried Chicken

For the meat, most people opt for using a cut up fryer chicken. Personally, I like to use bone-in chicken thighs: the foodie’s first choice piece for chicken. (You can usually spot the chefs by the cuts of meat that they grab. For example, if you are at a pig roast with chefs, you’ll see them fight over the meat from around the head and especially the cheek meat! Now you insiders can beat the chefs there for the good stuff!)

This recipe and most recipes are more about procedure and quality ingredients rather than any secret culinary magic or hard-to-find components. You must follow the procedure to have exceptional results.

Brine that bird!

First, you gotta brine your bird! Aside from the meat, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar

Put water, salt and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil on the stove. Cook for one minute, turn the heat off, then remove the pot from the heat. Cool the mixture in a refrigerator until it’s completely chilled.

Once that brine is fully chilled, add the cut up fryer chicken (or the equivalent of about 3 pounds of bone-in chicken if you’re going that route). Return the mixture to the fridge.

Leave the chicken in the brine for at least 12 hours. Twenty-four hours is ideal.

After that, remove chicken from brine and get ready for your next step: the buttermilk brine.

You will need:

  • sealable gallon bag or lidded container
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups  buttermilk
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Place the chicken in your gallon plastic storage bag or lidded container. Add all your buttermilk brine ingredients and let that mixture sit in the fridge for an additional 24 hours.

Coat and fry!

Once you’re ready to fry the chicken, prepare the seasoned flour coating. You’ll need:

  • 2 ½ cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Place seasonings and flour in a brown paper bag.

Remove about half the chicken from the buttermilk brine and shake off excess buttermilk so it does not drip freely. Add that chicken directly to the seasoned flour in the bag and shake.

It is important to let floured chicken pieces rest at least 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken (newly coated with flour and spices) from the bag; let the breading rest on the chicken for about 15 minutes.

While you wait, fill a cast iron skillet halfway with lard, vegetable oil or a shortening such as Crisco and heat it to 325 degrees. Use a thermometer to ensure you’re hitting the proper temperature.

Once the oil is heated, it’s time to fry the chicken. Gently add pieces one at time to avoid splashing hot oil all over the place. When you add the chicken, the oil temp should be right around 300 degrees.

Once you’ve added the chicken, use a thermometer to keep the temperature at 300 degrees.

If your temperature drops further, don’t worry. Just turn up the heat to get the oil back to around 300 degrees.

Repeat the breading process with the remaining chicken. Let these pieces rest while the first batch of chicken is frying.

Cook the chicken on one side until it’s nicely brown, then turn the chicken over. Place a lid over the cast iron skillet, but leave it slightly ajar.

Let the chicken cook until all sides are brown and it reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees.

Dry the fried chicken on paper towels and repeat the frying process with the second half of your chicken. Once you’re done, bask in the glory of this traditional southern favorite!

So there you have it – with a little time and attention, you’ve made some outstanding fried chicken. If youve struggled with this iconic dish don’t be afraid to adopt this recipe as your own (but if anyone asks, be sure to send them my way)!

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