I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I don’t use the label “The Best” lightly. Some people use it with abandon for social media enticement purposes but I use it sparingly so that when I do use it, you know I mean business. Overall, I try to eat a fairly healthy diet. I eat well a majority of the time so that on occasion, I can enjoy a splurge and still feel a sense of balance. This approach means that when I do enjoy a special occasion sort of food, it had better be worth my while. How disappointing is it to eat a calorie/fat/both bomb only to find that it was totally not worth it? In the past, fried chicken has often fallen into that category for me. Something that should be so darn good, but whether from a restaurant or homemade, has often fallen short of my expectations.
Last year I came across this recipe while flipping through one of my very favorite cookbooks and the lovely photos caught my eye. Then, I was hooked by Michael Ruhlman’s declaration: “This is the best fried chicken, ever. There, I said it. If it’s not, then I want to try yours.” Given its nature as a splurge food, it took me over a year to get around to finally trying this and now I am totally kicking myself for that wasted time. This fried chicken really is the best – Ruhlman killed it with this recipe.
There are many reasons this is so spectacular. It starts with a brine that locks in moisture and steeps the meat with aromatics. The chicken is dredged twice in a spiced flour mixture, which makes for a perfectly spiced and crisped skin. The whole technique is solid, straightforward, and yields the fried chicken we all deserve. I have found that if you prep the brine and flour mixture in advance, it lends itself well to entertaining as long as you are comfortable with frying. Might I suggest pairing with pickled okra and my favorite macaroni and cheese? Invite some friends over this weekend, pop some bubbly, and have yourselves a feast!