What Martha Stewart (and Snoop Dogg) can teach you about fried chicken

It’s National Fried Chicken Day next week, so who better to turn to for tips than Martha and Snoop Dogg?

The Internet’s most iconic besties both brought their best fried chicken game to “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.”

Here’s a clip:

As you can see, Snoop’s secret weapon is those chips, but we don’t get to see Martha’s version. (You can watch the full episode if you have the VH1 App, which I have not.)

But if you go back in the internet archives to 1992, you can find this clip of Martha and her friend Salli LaGrone competing in a fried chicken cook-off on “Martha Stewart Living.”

Now this, my friends, is where you’ll pick up some fried chicken know-how. Salli and Martha use different techniques and ingredients, including some that we don’t advise any more, like washing chicken, which can increase the chances of food poisoning.

Martha soaks her chicken in buttermilk with a little hot sauce sprinkled in at the end, but she doesn’t salt her chicken in any way early in the process. Most chefs now recommend brining the chicken or at least seasoning the chicken before coating in flour.

LISTEN: “Fried Chicken: A Complicated Comfort Food (Ep. 16),” from “Gravy,” a podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance

They both cook in Crisco shortening, an ingredient that has fallen out of vogue in some kitchens. Many cooks still use it, of course, and insist there is no other way to fry chicken.

I’m not a big fan of making fried chicken at home, unless it’s Springfield-style cashew chicken, but I am into this oven-baked method from New York chef Melba Wilson, who is featured in that episode of “Gravy” I linked to above.

MORE: Panko-crusted chicken with sweet chili mayo

Springfield-style cashew chicken

Bang-bang chicken is a panko-crusted fried chicken from Damn Delicious blogger Chungah Rhee from her new book “Damn Delicious: 100 Super Easy, Super Fast Recipes.” Contributed by Chungah Rhee

She uses mayonnaise as the binder to keep the breadcrumbs on the outside of the chicken, which won’t quite have the same crunch as the fried chicken you might crave from Popeye’s, but, as Melba points out, it’s a lot healthier and easier to clean up after.

New York chef Melba Wilson’s new cookbook features a recipe for oven-fried chicken. Photo by Melissa Hom.

Oven-Fried Chicken

With a lot less fat (and a lot less mess) but all the great flavor of traditional fried chicken, this is also a great way to serve fried chicken to a crowd. Just increase the quantities as needed, put it in the oven, and you’re done. You can even make it in advance and serve it at room temp.

— Melba Wilson

6 chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. whole milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Put the chicken in a bowl and season with the poultry seasoning, cayenne and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. In a second bowl, combine the bread crumbs, the salt, and pepper to taste. Combine the milk and mayonnaise in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken pieces in the milk mixture and then in the bread crumbs.

Lay the breaded chicken in the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. Then turn it over and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until it is done. When done, it should register 165 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer and, when pierced with a fork, the juices should run clear. Transfer to paper towels to drain before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Melba’s American Comfort: 100 Recipes from My Heart to Your Kitchen” by Melba Wilson (Atria, $30)

 


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