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Photo: Tyllie Barbosa; Food Styling: Carol Smoler; Styling: Barri Leiner Grant
Paul Fehribach, chef/owner
Big Jones, 5347 N. Clark St., 773-275-5725
Fehribach made his first dredge when he was seven years old. “It was horrible,” he says. Fortunately, the recipe evolved into a combination of “spicy herbaceous aromatics.” The brine, on the other hand, is a direct steal from the handwritten recipes of the legendary Edna Lewis Cookbook. Make this classic a day ahead and it’ll still be crisp and juicy at your picnic.
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 14 to 20 minutes (per batch)
Special equipment: Long-stem clip-on fry thermometer, meat thermometer
2 qt. iced water
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. minced onion (or onion powder)
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 cut-up frying chicken, about 4 lb.
1. Place the water and all the spices in a 4 qt. bowl with a fitted lid and stir gently to disperse the seasonings.
2. Add the chicken, making sure to completely submerge all the pieces. Cover tightly.
Do ahead: Make the day before and brine chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
4 cups all-purpose white flour, sifted
1 cup fine-grind white cornmeal
1⅛ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. ground sage
4 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried thyme
1. Place the flour and cornmeal in a large mixing bowl.
2. Sprinkle all the seasonings over the flour and combine thoroughly. (Gentle mixing with a whisk gets this job done handily.) After blending evenly, tightly cover the dry ingredients and set aside until needed.
Do ahead: Not necessary, but making the dredge a day or two ahead will make your fry day easier.
1. Place 3 quarts of your favorite vegetable oil in a 2-gallon heavy-bottomed cast-iron pot. Attach the clip-on thermometer and heat to 375 degrees.
2. While the oil is heating, transfer your dredge to a shallow pan and lay the chicken, still dripping wet, in the dredge. Coat each piece thoroughly and leave in the dredge a few minutes to soak up more flour.
3. When the oil reaches 375 degrees, lay the breasts, skin side down, in the hot oil. Cook for 3 minutes before adding the thighs.
4. One minute later, add the legs and wings. The cold chicken will lower the temperature of the oil, so check the thermometer to maintain at least 325 degrees.
5. After 10 to 12 minutes, when the skin is crispy and golden brown, turn the chicken over. Cook another 6 to 8 minutes, until the thickest part of the breast registers 155 degrees internally on a meat thermometer.
6. Drain on a wire rack or towel. Serve at once, or cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
Tips and tricks:
Don’t be intimidated by the long list of spices. Both the brine and the dredge are superquick to make, and the chicken will turn out supermoist.
If you have a deep fryer, use it. Set the temperature at 375 degrees and cook in batches. Breasts take 18 minutes; thighs take 15; and legs and wings 14. Use a meat thermometer on the breast, as above.
Coddle your chicken. Cool to room temperature, line a large platter with paper towels, and arrange with as little stacking as possible. Loosely cover with foil or plastic wrap. Do not use anything airtight, or the crust will go limp.
Take a bow.
Order fried chicken from Crisp (2940 N. Broadway, 773-697-6910, crisponline.com). It makes four varieties (all delish, all priced at $13.95 for a whole chicken), but get the Plain Jane—it’s the least messy.