Dirty bird for Dad: Crispy southern fried chicken

On Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day early for Rob as I will be away this coming Sunday. He didn’t want the fuss, but I wanted to make the day a little bit special for him with a few little pressies and cards and of course something special to eat. Obvs Maggie was especially pleased with the fart in a can I got him!

There’s a few things that Rob REALLY loves to eat. Anything spicy for a start. Anything Mexican or from Central America and some crispy fried chicken. The man can work a piece of chicken (or any kind of meat on the bone for that matter) with precision and dedication. So I thought I would have a crack at some southern fried chicken.

Now this stuff made me NERFOUS. I mean DEEP FRYING! And under cooked chicken! And flashbacks to the 80’s ad “Oh my goodness the chips!” there was so much to go wrong, and yet so much right to come, if I could indeed make it right. I watched countless videos on You Tube and Martha Stewart. I read recipes. I pondered this and that. In the end I used a recipe from Donna Hay’s Basic to Brilliance and tweaked it a little with the cut of chicken and half cooking it in the oil and the rest in the oven. I think that next time I make this I will add a few more herbs and spices to the mix to get great flavour, and maybe stick with just the chicken thigh without the bone. That’s right, there will be a next time.

Southern Fried Crispy Chicken

8-10 pieces chicken thigh (skin and bone in)
2 cups buttermilk
2 litres vegetable oil for frying
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon fennel seeds crushed
1 tablespoon cumin
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt flakes
1 teaspoon pepper

Now the original recipe calls for marinating the chicken in the buttermilk mixture for just 30 mins but I did this overnight for extra juiciness. The buttermilk makes the chicken juicy and tender so do it day before (no longer or it turns to mush), or anything up to 30 mins.

1. Into a bowl mix in the dried herbs and toss to combine. Add in the chicken pieces ensuring they all get an even dusting of the spice mix

2. I then poured the buttermilk into a large tupperware container and then added in the chicken pieces and coated and mixed the lot. I then whacked the lid on and left it in the fridge for 24 hours occasionally giving a mix.

3. When it time to fry I got myself organised with a baking tray lined with paper towel and a rack on top, I turned the oven on to have it hot to finish the cooking and I got my bowl of flour & baking powder, salt and pepper on the bench ready to go from the buttermilk to the flour and then into the hot oil.

4. Fill your saucepan about 2/3 way full with vegetable oil. I used my cast iron pot as it is nice and deep. Bring the oil to 180 degrees (350 farenheit) using a deep frying thermometer. If you don’t have one of these you can test your oil with a cube of bread and if it goes crispy and golden within 30 secs you are good to go. My stovetop is electric so I struggle with good heat control so if your oil gets too hot add in some cold oil to bring the temp down or turn off the heat for a little while. When you add the chicken pieces in the temp will also go down. The reason that I half cooked it in the oil and half in the oven was because I got too much colour in the oil. It’s recommended to cook the chicken for 6 mins to cook through but I did about half that and then a good 10-15 mins in a hot oven as it was really not cooked at all before the oven.

5. Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and getting off excess liquid before coating in the flour mix and then into the hot oil. Initially there is a LOT of bubbles (it’s the liquid bubbling up and it will die down as it cooks through).

I got about 3 pieces in at a time. As I said, cook for 6 mins or until crispy and golden, but if you have too much colour you can transfer to the wire rack and finish cooking in the oven.

6. I finished the cooking in a hot oven (around 190/200 degrees c) for another 10 mins. Just keep checking the colour inside as you know you do not want pink meat. Plus with the bone in that was more the case for me. If you used meat without a bone it would likely cook in that shorter time.

7. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve with a slaw. I made one using shredded wombok cabbage, red cabbage, half a bunch of shallots, a carrot, shaved brussel sprouts and a dressing of whole egg mayo, vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil and salt & pepper.

What a treat to have a big platter of chicken in the middle of the table. The girls (and Rob) LOVED this. We ate it as the afternoon turned to evening and we watched a light shower of snow fall down. The crispy of the chicken crunching away while the fire roared, I reckon that’s a pretty good non Father’s Day to me!

[gmc_recipe 22963]

Have you attempted fried chicken before?
Got any tips to share with us?
Terrified of deep frying like me because of that TV ad from the 80s?


  1. I make this same one every now and then, but as you suggested, I marinate overnight, amp up the herbs and spices and use boneless thigh pieces. I have used drumsticks too, which the kids love ?! Serving with coleslaw on a brioche bun also makes a very indulgent chicken burger. I was scared of deep frying, so the first time I made it I used panko crumbs instead of flour and baked them in the oven. Tasted good and a little healthier, but there is nothing like a piece of actual FRIED chicken…crunch.

  2. Rob’s a lucky man. It’s worth you going away for that spread. I’ve had countless Mother’s Days celebrated After the day – and it’s always felt a bit meh – I think you got it right with doing it before and with that chicken
    Travel safe.

  3. After many attempts at the bird myself, a hot little tip after the chook has been coated in the flour mix is to let it sit for about half an hour. The flour sort of sets and makes for an overall better result.

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