The Secret to Ashley Christensen's Fried ChickenJanuary 18, 2013
“Making great fried chicken at home is really pretty simple,” says chef Ashley Christensen, owner of Beasley’s Chicken + Honey in Raleigh, North Carolina. And who’d know better than a woman who makes her living turning out plate after glorious plate of the stuff each day?
Photos by Peter Yang
It’s all in a few old-school details, she says. Armed with these tips and her recipe, you’ll be wielding your cast-iron skillet like a pro in no time.
1. Brine the chicken overnight in a solution of salt and sugar to infuse it with moisture and flavor.
2. Buy the best quality chicken you can, and let its natural flavor come through with a minimal buttermilk and flour coating. Fry in neutral canola oil for the same reason.
3. Shake the chicken and coating together in a paper bag the classic way, for a thick, mottled crust.
4. Fry in a cast-iron skillet with just enough oil to come halfway up the sides of of the skillet.
5. Keep the oil at 325°F to allow the interior to cook all the way through at the same time the crust turns golden brown.
Ashley Christensen’s Fried Chicken
serves 2 to 4
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
8 cups cold water
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ cup kosher salt, plus 1 tsp.
1 gallon ice cubes
Canola oil (for frying)
4 cups whole buttermilk
4 cups all-purpose flour
To brine the chicken, bring the water to a boil, add in the sugar and 1½ cup salt, stir until dissolved, and remove from the heat. Combine the brine and ice in a large food-safe container. Place the chicken in the brine, cover, and refrigerate for at least 10 hours and no longer than 12 hours.
When ready to fry the chicken, fill a large cast-iron skillet with enough canola oil to come halfway up the sides, and heat to 325°F. Meanwhile, fill a paper grocery bag with the flour and remaining 1 tsp. salt, fold closed, and shake to combine. Fill a large bowl with the buttermilk.
Remove the chicken pieces from the brine, and pat them dry. One by one, dip the chicken pieces in the buttermilk, lift to briefly drain the excess, then place in the grocery bag with the flour mixture. Fold the bag closed, and shake to thoroughly coat the chicken with the flour mixture, about 30 seconds.
Shake the excess flour from the chicken pieces, and fry in the skillet, turning once, until done (155°F on the interior for white meat, 165°F on the interior for dark meat), adjusting the heat of the oil as necessary to maintain 325°F.