Fried Yardbird and Chicken Shake from The Red Rooster Cookbook

By Marcus Samuelsson |

The New Orleans chef Leah Chase said it to Julia Child, and there’s nothing more true. “I don’t care where you’re from or who you are. There’s nothing like a good piece of fried chicken.”

I went for dark meat only for our fried chicken. It’s juicier, and it’s got the crunch that I love hearing when I walk through the dining room.

Start the day before.

For the Chicken Shake, whisk ¼ cup berbere, ¼ cup hot smoked paprika, 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 2 tablespoons freshly ground white pepper, 2 tablespoons celery salt, 1½ teaspoons granulated garlic, and 1½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt together. Store in a jar, out of the light. It makes about 1 cup and will keep for 6 months.


Prep Details

Servings: 4

Total time: 30 minutes plus overnight marinade


8 cups water

1 cup coarse kosher salt

4 chicken thighs

4 chicken drumsticks

2 cups buttermilk

¾ cup coconut milk

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Chicken Shake, plus additional for serving Peanut oil for frying

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup semolina flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon freshly ground white pepper


Photo by Bobby Fisher

Photo by Bobby Fisher

  1. Put 2 cups of the water and the salt in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour into a large container, add the remaining 6 cups of water, and cool to room temperature. Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1½ hours. Drain.

  2. Whisk the buttermilk, coconut milk, garlic, and chicken shake together in a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Submerge the chicken in the marinade, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

  3. Fill a large saucepan one-third full with peanut oil. Set over medium-high heat and heat to 360°F.

  4. Coat the chicken while the oil heats. Put the flour, semolina, cornstarch, and white pepper into a bowl and whisk to combine. Let any excess marinade drip off the chicken, then roll in the flour coating, packing it on. Place on a rack set over a baking sheet. If the coating looks damp, roll it in the flour again.

  5. Working in batches, fry the chicken until it is a rich brown and has an internal temperature of 165°F, about 10 minutes per batch. Keep an eye on the heat and adjust it to keep the oil between 350° and 375°F. Drain on a rack set over a baking sheet.

  6. Season the Yardbird with a sprinkle of chicken shake.