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An unlikely fried chicken recipe


Over the years I’ve tried a lot of fried chicken recipes — usually ones that involve a couple of days of pre-prep and complicated cooking instructions that involve repeated covering and removing of the lid.

Late night, for reasons I can’t fathom, I got the jones to make fried chicken but this time without all the hoo-ha. I bought a small natural chicken at the market. I had flour and a big jug of peanut oil at home. Without looking at a recipe, I’d let my cooking muse guide me. I wanted the flavor and the tang of Watershed’s two-day bird (soaked in salt water brine and buttermilk), but without the time commitment.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to reproduce it, but this was the best fried chicken I’ve ever made and truthfully better than most I’ve had in restaurants. The skin stayed crisp but had a tender give like a good pie crust, and the seasoning was pumped up enough without being too aggressive. There’s a weird ingredient (yogurt) involved, which I think was key.

These are just quick notes that I was going to jot down for my own purposes, but decided to share with anyone who’s reading this blog. I’m not sure when I’ll be frying chicken again, but I’ll try and quantify the ingredients when I do.


  1. Three-pound chicken at room temperature, cut into 10 pieces including back and breast “pulley bone.”
  2. Soaked for 20 minutes in Greek yogurt thinned with water, heavily salted and seasoned with chicken bouillon powder. (Need to find a more natural ingredient one of these days, but this flavor was needed.)
  3. Chicken pieces shaken but not blotted to remove soak, then dropped in paper bag of A.P. flour seasoned with salt, black pepper and dried thyme.) Vigorous shake.
  4. Cooked uncovered in peanut oil and bacon grease uncovered. As the pieces shrank, I made room for more without overcrowding. Turned the temperature from high to medium a couple of times to keep the sizzle on point.
  5. Drained the pieces on the side of the flour bag.

Ok, off to the gym.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

16 comments Add your comment


December 10th, 2013
9:53 am

Any success story about fried chicken is a good story. I assume you did this in a cast iron skillet with a splatter screen by your reference to high & medium temps? Try mixing your bouillon powder w/ some paprika next time for that extra kick. Congrats on your best ever!!!!!!


December 10th, 2013
9:59 am

Looks pretty good, but I’m a spicy fan. Maybe some cayenne pepper and a few dashes of hot sauce to the yogurt mix.


December 10th, 2013
10:51 am

Saw your videos on instagram. Definitely looks good. Sometimes common sense and a watchful eye trumps two days processes and a dozen steps. I tried the recent Garden & Gun recipe for General Muir’s fried chicken (brined, steamed, fridged, sits in batter, fried) and it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

John Kessler

December 10th, 2013
11:13 am

Thanks, I may kick it up next time. I use a large cocotte (Dutch oven) … love it. It conducts heat beautifully and doesn’t need a splatter guard. Jimmy, if you get the frying jones, please try the yogurt and tell me what you think. It was maybe 1 cup of water and 2/3 cup yogurt — like the consistency of fake buttermilk. I’m sure you could add all your ghost peppers, Szechewan peppercorns and eye of newt to it. Also, I shook that flour bag like a bad nanny…think that step may have been important.


December 10th, 2013
11:23 am

“Bad Nanny Chicken” now on the menu. Sounds great and I can’t wait to try it.


December 10th, 2013
12:30 pm

I would try this but I would add some paprika (maybe the half hot stuff from Penzey’s) and some garlic powder.
I gotta get a chicken now…

Thanks John for sparking my brain.


December 10th, 2013
12:37 pm

Cocotte was new to me, so I looked it up. Since it is derived from the French, does that mean it is cast iron lined in porcelain (French oven) or just a cast iron oven (Dutch oven)? Thanks, John.


December 10th, 2013
2:20 pm

A picture of pure heaven – that drumstick and wing are perfection on a plate since they’re my two very favorite pieces. Bravissimo John!!!!!!!!


December 10th, 2013
5:25 pm

I’ve heard of people using yogurt instead of milk or sour cream for baking but why not fried chicken?

although I’d be tempted to go Indian with that yogurt too. Like adding some cumin or tumeric with the flour.


December 11th, 2013
7:16 am

Brining chicken really does help. Buttermilk etc.soaking never has made a taste difference in my fried chicken. I must be doing something wrong because all great cooks swear by this method. All it does for me is add to my grocery bill.


December 11th, 2013
5:52 pm

Rather than the bouillon, try some vegetable or chicken “Better Than Bouillon” paste in your water and yogurt marinade. Don’t know about time; but, the stuff is much easier than stock and much, much better tasting than bouillon.


December 11th, 2013
6:13 pm

Can he say “hoo-ha” on his blog? LOL

Ain’t no good reason fried chicken should take hours or days to make. Can’t wait to try your “No Hoo-ha Fried Chicken”, JK.

@Kar – No cumin please. The Shed regrettably does that to their “award winning” fried chicken. Generously salted, some pepper, and just the right amount of flour should do.

[...] An unlikely fried chicken recipe [...]


December 12th, 2013
6:36 am

crackbaby……….I agree, no cumin on my fried chicken.


December 14th, 2013
12:21 pm

My grandmother made the best fried chicken that I’ve ever tasted. No “fancy” ingredients, no days ahead preparation, just salt, pepper, flour, a little milk or buttermilk and a cast iron skillet of Crisco with a watchful eye. Simple is better when it comes to the classics.

Amit S.

December 16th, 2013
6:35 am

Basic but very good recipe for fried chicken. Agree with the fellow people on here when I say that with some proper experimenting this would turn into an amazing recipe! Check out more Chicken recipes that are similar to this one.