Chef Jesse’s Fried Chicken

By on August 30, 2016

Chef recently taught me his way for making fried chicken.  I was skeptical at first.  Two days?  Are you kidding me?  But,  as usual, once I just sat down, shut my mouth and did what he told me,  I learned he was right.  I’ll never do it any other way.  And my tip is to choose a flat pack of thighs and breasts adding up to about 3 pounds.  It’s just easier.  Thanks Chef.  This recipe is from the forthcoming book:  Chef Jesse’s Post Modern Southern Cooking.fried chicken in the pan

           Chef Jesse’s Fried Chicken

When I was growing up, my mother, plus my aunt Ella Mae both made great fried chicken and so did my aunt Minnie Mae, and don’t forget aunt Mary.  They fried the best chicken and everyone had her own version, but after tasting a lot of chicken all around, I learned to use the methods I learned in French kitchens.  This means I brine my chicken overnight, then rinse, drain and leave it in a buttermilk soak for the day.

I’d have to say that this is a perfect example of what happens when the French chef meets his Southern cousins. And that’s why I call this my Post Modern Southern Cooking.  Serve with collard greens and mashed potatoes.  Yum!

My method takes two days, but only about 20 minutes of your time and the result is mouthwatering, with a deep, layered flavor and cooked through.  The actual chicken frying is done in 10 to 15-minutes, but the preparation is mostly a matter of brining and soaking.  Easy and well worth the extra steps.

The first time I fried chicken my way for my mother, she was surprised.  POW! I told her.  Now that’s giving it my little twist.fried chicken with collard greens and mashed potatoes

When it comes time to fry a chicken, I choose a smaller bird, or chicken pieces so that the pieces will cook evenly.  I just give it a quick pass through my Chef Jessie Dredge and then fry that baby up.  Ready to eat in 10 to 15 minutes.

I always use a deep fat thermometer in the oil, and an instant read thermometer to stick in the bird to make sure its cooked through.  Tiny steps but the result is worth it.

It’s important not to overload the skillet because that drops the oil temperature and results in a greasy bird.  Use a 10” deep heavy black skillet, preheat the oil, stick a thermometer in it,  then fry four pieces at a time, Adding drops of hot sauce at the last minute, then drain and fry the other four.

POW! Serve that baby with mashed potatoes and collard greens.  Now we’re talking.fried-chicken on red platter

(Makes 4 servings)


1- 3 pound frying chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or use pieces – say legs and thighs, breasts.  Just so the whole thing weighs around 3 pounds.

1 quart buttermilk

1 teaspoon hot sauce (Frank’s is good)

Chef Jesse’s Fried Chicken Spice Blend

To make the blend

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

2 teaspoons granulated onion

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Prepare the dredge by blending the dried herbs with the flour, cornstarch in a shallow bowl or brown paper or plastic bag.

The day before you plan to serve, fill a large bowl with cold water and add ¼ cup Kosher salt.  Put chicken pieces in the brine, refrigerate, then the next morning, lift the chicken out of the brine.  Rinse and drain..  Now place brined chicken in a bowl and cover with buttermilk. Add hot sauce. Soak in the refrigerator about 8 hours.  Then drain.

Place chicken pieces in the dredge, shake well to coat the pieces, then shake off excess flour.

In a 5-quart heavy pot or deep skillet, put 48 ounces peanut, soy or other vegetable oil and heat over medium high heat to 365▫ F. Cook four pieces at a time, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through to an internal temperature of 140▫F..

Fry for  10 to 15 minutes ,turning, then drain on paper towels or a wire rack.  POW!  Serve with additional hot sauce.fried chicken on a rack


About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”