Fried Yardbird

Bobby Fisher

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.

[Ed. note: Start the day before.]


  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Chicken Shake (see below), plus additional for serving
  • Peanut oil for frying

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 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 1 1/2 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 on 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.

Chicken Shake: Whisk 1/4 cup berbere, 1/4 cup hot smoked paprika, 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 2 tablespoons freshly ground white pepper, 2 tablespoons celery salt, 11/2 teaspoons granulated garlic, and 11/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt together. Store in a jar, out of the light. It makes about 1 cup and will keep for 6 months.

Serves 4

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