This is John Besh. He's one of the best Southern chefs in America and the one recipe he thinks everybody should learn to cook is his grandmother's fried chicken.
So we asked him to show us (and you, obvs) how to make it.
Here is everything you'll need to make the fried chicken:
1. Set the chicken pieces on a cutting board and season liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.
2. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and add the buttermilk, then let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the flour with the seasonings.
3. Heat 1 to 2 inches of oil in a heavy skillet (cast iron is best) or Dutch oven over high heat.
4. When the oil reaches 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer, turn the heat down to medium. You're ready to fry!
5. Transfer 3 to 4 pieces of chicken from the buttermilk to the flour mixture, letting any excess buttermilk drip off.
6. Use your hands to pack the flour onto all sides of the chicken, then, working with one piece at a time, shake off any excess flour...
7. ...and carefully place the dredged chicken in the hot oil.
8. Repeat with 2 or 3 more pieces of chicken. Make sure your oil temperature doesn't drop lower than about 340°F. Try and keep it at 350°F.
9. Let the chicken fry for about 6 minutes, until it's lightly browned on the underside.
10. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to carefully flip each piece of chicken.
11. Cook for 6 more minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and both sides are golden brown.
12. Lift the finished pieces of chicken out of the oil and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet.
13. Repeat the process, cooking 3 or 4 pieces of chicken at a time, until all the chicken is cooked. Season the cooked chicken with a little more salt and pepper, as soon as it comes out of the oil.
14. We asked Besh if he serves his fried chicken with any kind of sauce, and he suggested Tabasco honey...
...which is literally just honey with a little Tabasco mixed in.
Turns out, Tabasco honey is really, REALLY good, and you should put it on everything.
You can spoon it right onto a crispy piece of chicken...
... or you can serve the chicken straight-up, with the honey on the side.
Grandmother Grace's Fried Chicken
Makes 6 servings
Recipe by John Besh, from Besh Big Easy
For this recipe, you can use a whole chicken cut into 10 pieces, or you can just buy 3 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces. Make sure the breasts are cut in half and the drumsticks and thighs are separated.
For the chicken:
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, preferably from one whole chicken
Salt and pepper
1 quart buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Canola oil, for frying
For the tabasco honey:
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon tabasco, or more to taste.
For the chicken:
Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, soak the chicken in the buttermilk for at least 15 minutes. The idea is that the lactic acids tenderize the chicken. Sometimes my grandmother would even put the soaking chicken in the fridge overnight.
Mix together the flour, celery salt, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Dredge each chicken piece in the seasoned flour to coat well. The batter should just barely adhere to the chicken, so make sure you give each piece a little shake to let extra batter drop off before frying.
Heat about 1 to 2 inches of canola oil in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven until it reaches 350°F (get a deep-fry thermometer here). Place a few pieces of the chicken in the oil — you can't do more than 3 or 4 at a time without causing the oil temperature to drop, which makes for greasier chicken — and fry for 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, turn each piece over, then cover the pan to cook for another 6 minutes. The chicken is done when it's deep brown, cooked through. Drain on paper towels and salt well.
For the Tabasco honey:
Mix the honey and Tabasco in a small bowl and serve alongside the chicken, for dipping or drizzling.
If you're up for butchering your own chicken, here's how Besh did it:
1) Pull the leg away from the body make a cut in the skin right where the thigh meets the body. Once you've cut the skin, pull the whole leg backwards to pop the joint and pull the leg off the body. Repeat with the other leg.
2) Cut the wings off right at the second joint (where the wing meets the breast).
3) Remove the breasts by cutting lengthwise down the breast bone. Use your knife to scrape the breast meat away from the ribs, all the way down, until the breasts are completely detached. (Besh used his hands to just rip the meat off, which is another option.)
4. Cut each breast piece in half, crosswise.
5. Cut the legs into two pieces each (the thigh and the drumstick): Do this by cutting diagonally through the leg joint that separates the thigh and the drumstick. You'll have to push down on your knife, but it should go through fairly easily when you find the joint.