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.
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
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.
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.
Fill a large saucepan one-third full with peanut oil. Set over medium-high heat and heat to 360°F.
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.
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.
Season the Yardbird with a sprinkle of chicken shake.