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Lee Brian Schrager’s Fried Chicken Road Trip: Nashville

Lee Brian Schrager’s Fried Chicken Road Trip: Nashville

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Continuing his fried chicken road trip around the Southeast, Schrager stops in Nashville

Schrager stops by Hattie B’s Hot Chicken while scoping out Nashville's best fried chicken.

Beginning in New Orleans, and then heading up through Atlanta, we’ve been following famed food and wine event planner Lee Brian Schrager’s fried chicken road trip throughout the Southeast. Schrager is visiting his favorite joints to help kick off the announcement of his new cookbook, Chicken Delight, which will be released in October 2014.

The third and final stop on his journey is the South’s "music city:" Nashville. Check out the following interviews to learn what the Schrager and chefs have to say about their fried chicken.

Why Schrager chose it: We were intrigued by the multi-generational story and the rumors of incredible home-style country food at this Nashville "meat and three."

Conversation between Schrager and Khalil Arnold:

Lee Schrager: What’s your secret to making sure that the skin sticks?
Khalil Arnold: Brining the chicken. And making sure that the brine is kept cold.

LS: How do you keep the skin crispy?
KA: The double-dipping. After you dip the chicken in egg and flour, you let it sweat and absorb the flour for about 10 minutes in the fridge, and then you dip it in the flour again.

LS: What do you believe to be special about your fried chicken?
KA: It’s full of flavor. I make it here just like I would make it for myself at home.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Why Schrager chose it: This is the place where Nashville’s hot chicken tradition gets a young, fresh, and modern update.

Conversation between Schrager, owner Nick Bishop Jr., and executive chef John Lasater:

LS: What’s your secret to making sure that the skin sticks?
John Lasater: When you drop the chicken in the oil, don’t move it until the chicken is sealed in the crust.

LS: How do you keep the skin crispy?
JL: The temperature of the oil.

LS: What do you believe to be special about your fried chicken?
Nick Bishop Jr.: It’s HOT!

Popeyes-Style Chicken Tenders From 'Fried & True'

Wylie Dufresne, celebrated mad-scientist chef of NYC's WD-50, has a thing for Popeyes fried chicken. So much of a thing that he reportedly served it at his wedding. So for Lee Brian Schrager's cookbook, Fried & True: More than 50 Recipes for America's Best Fried Chicken and Sides, Dufresne was given a mission: recreate those golden tenders and buttery, soft biscuits, because Popeyes is not about to cough up their recipe! Unsurprisingly, Dufresne rose to the challenge, though with stipulations to keep his molecular techniques at bay so that the average cook could achieve the same results at home. You might be able to guess how this ends. with fried chicken and biscuits that puts the original inspiration to shame, or at least firmly into second place.

The tenders first get an overnight soak in buttermilk and hot sauce that makes them juicy and, um, tender. To nail the perfectly seasoned crust, he eventually landed on a breading that includes a packet of onion soup and a hefty dose of McCormick's Italian Herb Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix. (If this makes you cringe, remember who we're talking about here, and trust.) Cornstarch, potato starch and baking soda added to the self-rising flour mixture ensure the signature craggy texture and exceptional crunch. Finally, after much experimentation to find the perfect frying temperature, he settled on a relatively low 300°, which renders the crust a deep golden-brown and keeps the lean meat moist.

As for the biscuits, Dufresne's shortening-based version took down Popeyes' without a fight—their delicate, pillowy interior is surrounded by a gently crisp crust. I was dubious about the addition of powdered milk to the mix, since this can sometimes toughen baked goods, but it most certainly didn't do so here it added just the right amount of sweetness and a pleasant, subtle cooked-milk flavor.

And so, the student becomes the master—if we can wrap our minds around Wylie Dufresne being Popeyes' student to begin with.

Why I picked this recipe: Wylie Dufresne takes on Popeyes? That's something I want to see.

What worked: The tenders were exceptional. Even during the preparation, I was skeptical about the seasoning mixes the breading smelled like straight spaghetti sauce. Until it hit the fryer, that is, at which point all the ingredients fused into the perfect, savory, fried chicken-y crust. Despite being up to my eyeballs in fried chicken this week, I did feel it was my duty to hit up a Popeyes and do a side-by-side comparison. While Dufresne's tenders certainly harken to the fast food version, there's no question his get the blue ribbon.

What didn't: I found the converted measurements of the dry ingredients for the biscuits to be off. Since Dufresne created the recipes using weighed amounts, those are what I went by. For the given weight of flour, however, I measured 3 1/2 cups, as opposed to the 4 cups listed. And even more significant, it took double the amount of powdered milk (1 cup) to meet the weight measurement this varies tremendously, I imagine, depending on the coarseness of the brand you use. The biscuits were perfect using the weighed amounts, so stick with those. Also, the recipe says it makes 12 biscuits, but I could get at most 6 plus scraps out of the single batch of dough. There is enough dry base for a second batch, so maybe that's where the count got confused.

Suggested tweaks: If you have a kitchen scale, use it, particularly for the biscuits. If you want a dozen, use all the dry base and double the wet ingredients, and I suggest brushing the tops with more melted butter once they're out of the oven for an even more authentic Popeyes experience.

Reprinted from Fried & True by Lee Schrager with Adeena Sussman. Copyright (c) 2014 by Lee Schrager. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, LLC.

World Chefs: Schrager tracks best U.S. fried chicken recipes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lee Brian Schrager’s passion for fried chicken led him to travel around the United States and convince celebrity and local chefs to share their recipes in his new cookbook “Fried & True.”

In the book co-written with Adeena Sussman, Schrager shares more than 50 recipes for fried chicken from his contributors including double fried chicken and another with Asian-inspired ingredients.

The 55-year-old founder of the Food Network South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals spoke to Reuters about what makes the best fried chicken and sharing recipes.

Q: What is the secret to making great fried chicken?

A: The right temperature with the frying oil. If the oil is too hot, it’s going to be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. If it’s too cold, it will get too greasy. Starting the oil at 370 degree Fahrenheit (188 degree Celsius) is the key.

Q: What do you look for in fried chicken?

A: Very, very crunchy on the outside and still juicy on the inside. The recipes I like best all these years that I have tasted and made are double-fried. You are frying it first, letting it sit and re-frying it in a higher-temperature.

Q: How willing were chefs to sharing their recipes?

A: Everyone from Thomas Keller and Nathan Myhrvold share their recipes. The ones who didn’t share their recipes in my mind are because they didn’t have a recipe and haven’t anything written down. Certain people probably tweaked their recipes so they are not exactly what you get at their restaurants.

Q: Which recipe was the toughest to obtain?

A: I’m a big Popeyes (a U.S. restaurant chain) fried chicken fan. They would not meet with us in the beginning . I wrote to the CEO directly. They then decided to give us 45 minutes of their time on a Monday morning last July. It ended up being 2-1/2 to 3 hours. They didn’t share their actual fried chicken recipe. They certainly let us into their test kitchen and clearly we saw the ingredients that went into it. We didn’t get the quantities and all the names. We were able to piece together to what they were doing.

Q: How often do you eat fried chicken now?

A: I don’t have it any less but I don’t have it any more. I’m probably tempted to try it more when I’m traveling to a new place. I often order it for the table just to sample it by taking a bite.

Wylie Dufresne’s Popeyes-style Chicken Tenders (serves 4 to 6)

1-½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 12 2-ounce chicken tenders

1 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce (or more to taste)

3 cups (13.5 ounces) self-rising flour

½ cup (2 ¼ ounces) potato starch

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sea salt, plus more for seasoning

4 tablespoons (1 ounce) paprika

1 teaspoon (.176 ounce) baking soda

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) onion soup base, ground in spice grinder until fine

7 teaspoons (1 ounce) Italian Herb Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix, finely ground

Brine the chicken: In a large, nonreactive bowl or Ziploc bag combine the chicken, buttermilk, and hot sauce cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bread the chicken: Sift all breading ingredients 3 times through a flour tamis or very fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, discarding any lumps. Working in batches, remove 4 or 5 tenders at a time from the buttermilk marinade and toss in the breading, coating well. Transfer to a baking sheet and let rest until the breading adheres, 15 to 20 minutes.

Fry the chicken: While the chicken rests, add 2 inches of oil to a large (at least 6-quart) pot and heat to 300 degree Fahrenheit. Working in batches, fry 4 to 5 tenders at a time until brown and crisp, 5 minutes per batch. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Once all the chicken is fried, season lightly with salt.

The word on fried bird

When Lee Brian Schrager talks about his new book of fried-chicken recipes, he fairly clucks about all the delicious bird he found in Atlanta.

At Mary Mac’s, the author and food-fest founder was smitten not just by the fried chicken but the dazzling array of side dishes, including the tomato pie made with Ritz crackers and mayonnaise. The Midtown institution gets an extravagant eight-page spread in Schrager’s “Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides” (Clarkson Potter, $22.50).

In Buckhead, he was dazzled by Linton Hopkins’ “Naked” Fried Chicken and Old Fashioned Coleslaw. Schrager even infiltrated the headquarters of Atlanta-based Popeye’s, walking out with a reasonable facsimile of the chain’s top-secret recipe for spicy Louisiana-style chicken tenders.

But the dish that stole his heart was chef Asha Gomez’s tender, aromatic Keralan-style chicken, which comes splayed across a cardamom-scented waffle and doused with a spice-infused maple syrup. “Her chicken truly is probably my favorite — not only one of the most unique recipes in the book but one of the best,” Schrager rhapsodizes of the India native’s riff on American chicken and waffles. “I mean that green emerald chicken and that waffle that she serves are just extraordinary.”

Though Gomez recently closed her Cardamom Hill restaurant, the brilliant dish will live on at Spice Road Kitchen, scheduled for a fall opening at Krog Street Market. In the meantime, you may see it occasionally at her just-opened Indian patisserie, Spice to Table, in the Old Fourth Ward. Or you can use Schrager’s book to make it at home.

Schrager, a New York native who now divides his time between Miami and New York City, wasn’t a fried-chicken cook until recently. But that is not to say that he was not a fried-chicken lover.

He remembers his parents ordering out from a place called Chicken Delight on Long Island. A pile of chicken — plus “long crispy French fries and Parker House rolls” — would arrive between two stapled-together white cardboard plates. “So by the time we got it, it had been steaming, and everything just tasted so delicious,” Schrager says, describing the greasy mess so authentically that you want to hand him a napkin.

And who else would brag about getting thrown out of a Howard Johnson’s? The offense, he chuckles, was scarfing too much chicken from the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Though you can barely flip through “Fried & True” without seeing a recipe with an Atlanta connection, the book is a sampling from across America. Jacques Pepin’s Fried Chicken Southern-Style with Corn Bread Sticks and Thomas Keller’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken sit alongside recipes from the chicken shacks of Nashville and New Orleans.

There’s a chapter on Pacific Rim flavors (including a delicious and super-easy Vietnamese fried chicken that I tested for this story). And instructions for chicken wings, chicken sandwiches, fried chicken skins, schnitzel and so on.

A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Schrager worked for 20 years with InterContinental Hotels and is now vice president of corporate communications at Southern Wine & Spirits (an alcohol-beverage distributor), where he founded both the Food Network South Beach and the New York City Wine & Food Festivals.

At the 2011 festival in New York, he started Chicken Coupe, a showcase for fried chicken. Eventually, he hatched the book.

Before immersing himself in research, Schrager mostly avoided frying chicken. Like many cooks, he found it to be a hot, messy endeavor. Now he’s such convert that he recently shipped his favorite his iron skillet to his summer home in New York.

“It’s no longer a task,” he says. “If you know what you are doing, follow the directions and have the right temperature, anyone can fry a chicken.”

Author Lee Brian Schrager offers tips for frying the best bird. Make sure the oil is hot enough — for each batch. Don’t crowd the pan. Use a small chicken or cut up large pieces. (It cooks quicker and won’t dry out.) Use cold chicken. (“It fries up crunchier.”) And his favorite tip: Boil a pot of water with cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc. (“It really works in taking the grease out of the air.”) Here, then, are three delicious recipes from his new book, “Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides” (Clarkson Potter, $22.50).

Asha Gomez’s Keralan Fried Chicken, Lowcountry Cardamom Waffles and Spicy Maple Syrup

Total time: 25 hours, 10 minutes (includes marinade time)

You’ll need to plan ahead for this dish. It takes a full 24 hours to marinate the chicken and infuse the syrup. But it’s worth the effort. Unsweetened malt powder (also known as diastatic malt powder) can be found online. The original recipe called for twice this amount of syrup, so feel free to double up. But we found 1 cup to be plenty.

For the spicy maple syrup

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, coarsely ground

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, coarsely ground

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup unsweetened malt powder (available online)

2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled,

plus more for greasing the waffle iron

½ cup cooked basmati or white rice

1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled

6 whole Serrano (or 3 large jalapeño) peppers (seeded if desired)

2 tablespoons kosher salt

8 boneless, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

2 stems fresh curry leaves (optional)

To make the syrup: Toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and red pepper flakes in a dry, hot medium skillet until fragrant and the seeds begin to pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk the toasted spices into the maple syrup and let the syrup infuse at room temperature for 24 hours.

To make the waffles: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, rice flour, malt powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs then add the buttermilk and melted butter and whisk again. Slowly whisk the wet mixture into the dry ingredients then add the cooked rice, whisking just until combined. Cover and let the batter rest for about 1 hour at room temperature. Heat a waffle iron and brush with melted butter. For each waffle, ladle ½ cup batter into the waffle iron and cook until crisp and golden, 4 to 5 minutes.

To make the chicken: In a blender, purée the buttermilk, garlic, ginger, peppers, cilantro, mint and salt until smooth. Place the chicken in a large glass dish or bowl, pour the buttermilk purée over the chicken, toss to coat and marinate for 24 hours.

Fill a large (12-inch) cast-iron skillet with 1⁄3 inch oil and gently heat to 300 degrees. Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. While the oil is heating, remove the chicken from the buttermilk purée, gently shake off excess and dredge each piece in flour. Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down the oil should come halfway up the pan. Cook the chicken until it turns golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes per side. Drain the chicken on the rack and drizzle with the melted coconut oil. While the chicken is draining, crisp the curry leaves by frying in the oil until crisp, 10 to 15 seconds.

To serve: Place a piece of hot chicken on waffle, and drizzle with spiced syrup. Garnish with the fried curry leaves (if using).

Per serving: 968 calories (percent of calories from fat, 49), 35 grams protein, 88 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 53 grams fat (16 grams saturated), 189 milligrams cholesterol, 1,226 milligrams sodium.

Hy Vong’s Fried Chicken

Total time: 25 minutes

To avoid splatters, be sure to dry the chicken with paper towels before frying and use a wok or a large, deep pot.

1 whole chicken, cut into quarters

1 cup best-quality chicken stock, preferably homemade

¼ cup finely chopped jalapeño or serrano peppers, seeded if desired

½ cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)

Heat 1 inch oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Dry the chicken thoroughly

with paper towels. Add the chicken and pan-fry, without moving, until the bottom skin is golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip the pieces and cook on the other side, an additional 8 to 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce: In a small saucepan, bring the stock, soy sauce and jalapeños to a simmer. Arrange the chicken on a platter, pour the sauce over the top, and garnish with scallions. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 466 calories (percent of calories from fat, 71), 31 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 36 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 89 milligrams cholesterol, 1,228 milligrams sodium.

Art Smith’s Fried Chicken and Swiss Chard Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon

Total time: 25 to 49 hours (including 24-hour or 48-hour marinade time)

Chicago chef Art Smith’s crispy classic is reminiscent of grandma’s, and the green salad is a nice foil to the rich bird.

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons kosher salt

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks

4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

To make the spice mix: In a small bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Set aside.

To brine the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of the salt, and 2 tablespoons of the spice mix. Place all the chicken pieces in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the chicken, seal, and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

To fry the chicken: In a large, high-sided skillet, slowly heat the oil to 325 degrees. Place the flour in a large bowl and stir in the remaining spice mix and the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt. Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk brine and dredge in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess, then dredge again in the flour to form a double crust. Working in batches, gently place the chicken into the hot oil the temperature will drop to 265 to 275 degrees. Fry the chicken until deep brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes for the first side and 10 to 12 minutes for the other side. Transfer the fried pieces to the rack and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with salad.

Per serving, chicken only: 1,025 calories (percent of calories from fat, 68), 52 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 77 grams fat (15 grams saturated), 219 milligrams cholesterol, 1,121 milligrams sodium.

Swiss Chard Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon

Total time: 10 minutes

This salad is easy to put together while the fried chicken rests for a few minutes.

8 large Swiss chard leaves (about 3/4 pound), trimmed and thinly shredded crosswise

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or more to taste

1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, toss the chard, oil and lemon juice. Add the cheese and pine nuts and toss to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 209 calories (percent of calories from fat, 80), 6 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 19 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 4 milligrams cholesterol, 275 milligrams sodium.

All recipes adapted from “Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides” by Lee Brian Schrager (Clarkson Potter, $22.50).

Fried chicken and velvety mashed potatoes

From Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America's Best Fried Chicken and Sides Fried & True by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman

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  • Categories: Main course American South
  • Ingredients: whole chicken all-purpose flour garlic powder onion powder paprika ground cayenne pepper buttermilk Crystal hot sauce peanut oil thyme rosemary sage garlic heavy cream potatoes

Arnold's Country Kitchen Fried Chicken

If there’s one place you absolutely must visit in Nashville, it’s Arnold’s Country Kitchen, a humble meat-and-three that brings the entire community to the table. It was founded by North Carolina native Jack Arnold in 1983 his eldest son, Khalil, now serves as chef and is constantly tweaking family recipes, like using horseradish and wasabi powder for heat and a touch of sugar to enhance the natural sweetness of his turnip greens. A line forms outside the long, narrow brick structure long before the doors open at 10:30 AM. From that moment until they close for the day at 2:30, the queue simply never lets up, inside snaking past shelves stacked with upside-down take-out containers waiting to be filled with the restaurant’s famous sides. Everything on the rotating menu—from garlicky, fat-capped roast beef and stewed okra to a devilish, chili-laced chocolate pie—is to die for, but we came for the fried chicken—and it didn’t disappoint. Available only on Mondays, it’s the kind of crunchy, deeply satisfying bird you order in quantities and take home for leftovers. There’s no reason food this simple should taste this good, but we’re so grateful that it does.

Occasion Buffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe Course Main Course

Dietary Consideration Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free


  • 1 whole chicken , cut into 8 or 10 pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 large eggs
  • ½ cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, preferably White Lily brand
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • Canola oil , for frying


Season the chicken: Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry. Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag and season liberally with salt and pepper. Let chill while making the wash and dredge.

Make the wash and dredge: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and hot sauce with 4 cups cold water. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, and poultry seasoning. (If making the fried chicken livers, reserve about 1½ cups of the dredge.) Fill a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with 2 inches oil and heat to 350°F.

Fry the chicken: Remove the wash from the refrigerator and dip the chicken in the wash, then press the chicken in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Let the chicken rest on a plate, refrigerated, for 10 minutes, then re-press the chicken in the flour dredge. Line a platter with a cloth napkin or paper towels and set aside. Working in batches, place the chicken in the hot skillet and cook until the underside is golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook until the other side is golden brown, an additional 7 to 8 minutes (some of the smaller pieces, like the legs and wings, will be done faster than the breasts or thighs). Place the chicken on the lined platter to drain. Season with additional salt, if desired, and serve hot or at room temperature.


A quick soak in a hot-sauce brine gives Arnold’s fried chicken a kick. Though the Arnolds use White Lily brand all-purpose flour, any brand will do. We also adored their fried chicken livers (served at the restaurant with an onion gravy), which couldn’t be simpler and use the same flour dredge as the chicken. If you’re making the livers right after the chicken, use the leftover flour mix if you make them on their own (see the recipe), a quarter of the flour dredge recipe is plenty.


Despite a degree in culinary arts and countless hours spent cooking in restaurants, author Schrager had only prepared fried chicken a single time before he began work on this crunchy, savory valentine to one of America's classic dishes. Making up for lost time, Schrager scoured the country, uncovering myriad ways to make a dish that is fundamentally simple. Profiling holes-in-the-wall restaurants as well as tres chic eateries such as Cafe Boulud and the Union Square Cafe, Schrager illustrates that fried chicken is one of the nation's common culinary denominators. Some regional specialties, such as Nashville's famous hot chicken, an incendiary dish incorporating liberal glugs of hot sauce and cayenne in the preparation, are singled out, as are riffs on key steps like brining in Coca-Cola or sweet tea or adding ham scraps, bacon, and butter to flavor the oil. A handful of carefully selected sides such as smothered cabbage, hash brown casserole, giblet gravy, and classic buttermilk biscuits from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock help cooks round out the meal. Even veterans will likely appreciate Schrager's attention to detail, such as the suggestion to chill the bird before frying to ensure maximum crispness and the hedonistic suggestion of adding bacon grease to the frying oil for smoky goodness. While it might not be the healthiest cookbook, it's certainly one of the most mouth-watering.

Fried & True: Celebrating Fried Chicken!

It’s National Fried Chicken Day! What better reason do you need to fry up a batch of everyone’s favorite comfort food?

For fresh ideas, we turned to Lee Brian Schrager, author of the new book Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides. The book spotlights roadside fry shacks, four-star restaurants and other people and places serving some of the best fried chicken around, sharing their best recipes and how-to tips.

Read our interview with Lee below, then get started with a few recipes from the book, created by some of the country’s top chefs.

Why fried chicken? What made you want to write this book?

There’s a lot to love about fried chicken – it’s an iconic American comfort food that everyone has a great memory with.

Tell us one of your fried chicken memories from your childhood.

I can still clearly see the Volkswagen Beetles of Chicken Delight pulling up to my house while growing up in Massapequa – there’s no forgetting a car with a giant chicken attached to the roof!

Why is fried chicken important in American history?

Many don’t realize that fried chicken is actually a dish that originated in Scotland and was brought over to America. It gained popularity in the South during pre-Civil War times, but it’s importance is really due to the fact that it is one of the simplest foods that can be found everywhere – from a roadside fry shack to a white tablecloth dining establishment. Fried chicken spans all social classes.

Why do you think it’s so popular on restaurant menus right now?

Everyone can relate to fried chicken, and many chefs have their own great memories with it. It’s a simple dish that allows for a lot of room to put your own twist on it.

How did you go about sourcing recipes for this book? Did you know which chefs you wanted to approach from the beginning, or how did you identify the best fried chicken out there?

We did have a hit list to start off with, and as the trip got started and people heard about it they started chiming in on social media with recommendations. The hit list grew city-by-city. The original list to where we ended up is universes away!

What’s your favorite style of fried chicken?

It’s hard to choose a favorite with such a variety of recipes out there – I love each one in the book for a different reason. There’s a chicken to fit my mood in every city!

What are some of the craziest riffs on fried chicken you’ve seen?

Adam Fleischman’s new ChocoChicken concept is really interesting – I’m looking forward to trying it.

What’s the secret to making the ultimate fried chicken at home?

Regardless whether you’re using a home fryer or an old cast iron skillet, using the right oil at the right temperature is key to the process.

What’s your fried chicken style: hot out of the fryer or cold from the fridge?

I do tend to let it sit for a bit before eating it, and I’ll never turn it down cold out of the fridge the next day.

TYLER FLORENCE: Fried Chicken and Velvety Mashed Potatoes

1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces

3 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons hot sauce, preferably Crystal or Tabasco

3 large sprigs fresh rosemary

½ head garlic (about 12 cloves), smashed, husk still attached

Brine the chicken: In a large (at least 5-quart) bowl or container, cover the chicken with 3 quarts cold water. Add 3 tablespoons salt, cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Make the dredge: In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and black pepper to taste until well blended. In another large shallow bowl, whisk the buttermilk and hot sauce with a fork and season with salt and black pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Dredge the chicken: Remove the chicken from the brine and pat it dry. Working a few pieces at a time, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, then dip them into the buttermilk, then dredge again in the seasoned flour. Set the pieces aside to rest on the parchment-lined sheet while you prepare the oil.

Fry the herbs: Pour about 3 inches oil into a large (at least 6-quart), deep pot. Add the thyme, rosemary, sage, and garlic to the cool oil and gradually heat over medium-high heat to between 360°F and 365°F on a deep-fry thermometer (the herbs and garlic will perfume the oil with their flavor as the oil heats).

Fry the chicken: Working in batches, add the chicken to the oil, 3 or 4 pieces at a time. Fry, turning the pieces once, until golden brown and cooked through, 12 to 13 minutes. Remove the chicken and herbs from the pot, shaking off as much oil as you can, and drain on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle all over with more salt and black pepper. Arrange the chicken on a platter and scatter the fried herbs and garlic over the top. Serve hot, with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

Velvety Mashed Potatoes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes (2½ to 3 pounds), peeled

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Chopped chives, for garnish

In a small saucepan, heat the cream and butter over medium heat until the butter melts remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil, add the salt, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, then pass the potatoes through a food mill or a ricer into a large mixing bowl. Gently stir in the warm cream and butter mixture until it is entirely absorbed by the potatoes and the mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper, then finish with the olive oil (if using). Garnish with chopped chives. Serves 4.

MICHELLE BERNSTEIN: Michy’s Fried Chicken and Watermelon Salad

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Safflower, peanut, or grapeseed oil, for frying

3 tablespoons hot sauce, preferably Cholula brand

2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

1½ tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Brine the chicken: Place the chicken in a large nonreactive container or dish. In another bowl, stir 8 cups water with the sugar, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, celery seeds, and fennel seeds.

Pour the brine over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain the brine from the chicken and rinse and dry the meat completely with paper towels.

Dredge the chicken: Fill a large (12-inch) skillet just under halfway with the oil and heat to 275°F. Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. In a baking dish or bowl, combine the buttermilk and hot sauce. In another dish, combine the flour, Old Bay, salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess, then dip into the buttermilk mixture, then back into the flour mixture, shaking the dish to coat the chicken evenly.

Fry the chicken: Working 4 pieces at a time, fry the chicken in batches until golden and fully cooked through, 8 to 9 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on the rack cool for 10 minutes. Heat the oil back up to 350°F. Refry the chicken in batches until it darkens and crisps, an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain the chicken on the wire rack. Drizzle with honey. Serves 4.

Watermelon Greek Salad

1 1¾-pound wedge of watermelon, rind removed and cut into medium dice (about 4 cups)

2 large beefsteak tomatoes (1¼ pounds), seeded and cut into small dice (about 2 cups)

1 large English hothouse cucumber (¾ pound), peeled and cut into small dice (about 2 cups)

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons torn dill, uncut

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and dill. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic powder, and onion powder season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle half the vinaigrette over the salad and toss very gently. Add the remaining dressing to taste and gently toss again. Serves 4.

CHARLES PHAN: Hard Water’s Fried Chicken

For Air-Chilling the Chicken:

1 whole chicken (3 pounds maximum), cut into 8 pieces and patted dry

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

Juice of 1 lime (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

3 quarts canola or peanut oil, for frying

Season the chicken: Season the chicken with the salt and garlic powder and arrange, skin side up, on a baking sheet, leaving space between pieces if possible. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow the chicken to come to room temperature.

Make the Sriracha butter: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Place the Sriracha sauce, lime juice, salt, and sugar in a blender or food processor. Blend on high for 1 minute, adding the melted butter in a slow stream to create an airy, emulsified sauce. The sauce will keep in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Dredge the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cayenne pepper, salt, turmeric, and coriander. Fill a 6-quart pot halfway with the oil and heat to 340°F. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess, and place it on a clean baking sheet. Set a rack atop a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

Fry the chicken: Working in batches, fry the chicken, turning occasionally, until evenly browned and the internal temperature reaches 165°F, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain the chicken pieces on the rack serve hot or at room temperature, drizzled with the Sriracha butter. Serves 4.

Reprinted from Fried & True by Lee Schrager with Adeena Sussman. Copyright (c) 2014 by Lee Schrager. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, LLC.

Об авторе

LEE BRIAN SCHRAGER is the founder and director of the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals. He is also the vice president of corporate communications and national events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America and the author of Fried and True and The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Lee has appeared on Today and Rachael Ray, and serves on the board of directors for the Food Bank of New York City. He lives in Miami and New York City.

ADEENA SUSSMAN is a cookbook writer and recipe authority. In addition to this book she also collaborated with Lee Schrager on Fried and True, and is the coauthor of many other cookbooks. Her work has also been published in Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and on Epicurious and Food Republic.

A sizzling quest for the best fried chicken

Lee Brian Schrager, a man so passionate about extraordinary food and drink he founded the South Beach Food & Wine Festival, has always been equally fervent about down-home grub. His favorite by a mile is fried chicken – a dish so close to his heart he’s written a book about it.

In Fried & True, Schrager scours the land for the best fried chicken and sides recipes and restaurants – a fact-finding mission that took him the better part of a summer, and during which he did indeed test “every bite.”

Packed with stunning photographs of heartland cooks and kitchens, and easy-to-follow how-to’s, his book names Atlanta, New Orleans and Nashville America’s “fried chicken strongholds.” But you can get some of the best fried chicken in the world, he says, right here at Publix.

Schrager first became aware of the magical, calming qualities of an old-fashioned fried chicken dinner on Saturday nights at home on Long Island when he was a little boy. Date-night for his parents meant the kids could order-in from their favorite restaurant, Chicken Delight. The old TV jingle, which played endlessly in the New York area, is still fresh in his mind: “Don’t cook tonight, call Chicken Delight!”

Schrager, who moved to Fort Lauderdale at 14, attended Nova and Piper high schools, went back to New York to graduate from The Culinary Institute of America, and then returned to SoFla to enroll in Florida International University’s School of Hospitality. His adventures in food and wine have been taking him back and forth ever since.

After 20 years of rising through the ranks with InterContinental Hotels in Miami, Schrager began an almost entirely new career after 40, when he joined the nation’s top wine distributor, Southern Wine & Spirits in Miami.

“They challenged me to do something that would be good for them,” he says. “I think my story is about someone who took an opportunity afforded to them.”

Schrager, who also had the foresight to own bars and clubs during the early days of South Beach gentrification, immediately saw potential in a one-day hospitality festival that had been operating on his old campus at FIU. In 2002 he relocated the school’s annual “Florida Extravaganza” to South Beach, renaming and expanding it.

The event has grown exponentially, to more than 65,000 guests during its most recent outing earlier this year. The spin-off – The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival – is now in its seventh year, and takes place again this October.

In talent-wrangling the world’s top chefs, restaurants and associated professionals, Schrager has created a centralized food universe like no other. The fests have brought him fame and riches and superstar friends. (Whoopi Goldberg, a close pal, writes Fried & True’s forward).

Yet Schrager still lives in the same Miami home he bought 21 years ago when the Design District was still sketchy and frightened his parents, and while he was still toiling away at the InterContinental. He’s also never left his day job with Southern Wine & Spirits, where he is still vice president of corporate communications.

“I have a bunch of full-time jobs,” Schrager says. “Festivals are my night job. Then I do midnight things, like write books, that keep me fueled and going.”

So at the end of a marathon day, does he cook? Does he whip up a fantastic meal?

Watch the video: Popeyes Fried Chicken SECRET RECIPE -- UNCOVERED! (August 2022).