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Yardbird's Jeff McInnis Makes Fried Chicken at the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen (Video and Recipe)

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You'd expect to be served some great fried chicken at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. After all, the restaurant's slogan is "run, chicken, run" as in some guy with a very sharp knife is coming for you, little one.

But making fried chicken in the Bon Appetit test kitchen? That's quite an honor for Yardbird's chef/owner Jeff McInnis, who was invited to display his "Southern Jedi" mastery of the bird.

Read also:
- Miami's Best Fried Chicken: A Top Ten List

Here are three secrets to making Yardbird's Southern fried chicken at home:

1. Pick the right bird. Just like Major League Baseball players and Tour de France contenders, your bird should be drug- and hormone-free.

2. Brining is not just for Thanksgiving. Brine your chicken for a day. Sure that makes an impromptu meal difficult, but just think of the sweet anticipation.

3. Who needs a deep fryer? McInnis makes his chicken in a cast-iron skillet. You can, too.

Watch Jeff McInnis make his famous fried chicken at the Bon Appetit test kitchen here:

Inspired to make it at home? Here's the recipe:

Yardbird's Southern Fried Chicken


Yields 16 Pieces

Ingredients:
2 whole chickens

For the chicken brine:


1 1/4 qts. water

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup salt

5 tbsp. paprika

5 tbsp. cayenne

1 tbsp. black pepper

2 tbsp. granulated garlic

2 tbsp. granulated onion

1 1/4 quarts ice water

For the seasoned flour:


1 1/4 quarts all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. granulated garlic

5 tsp. granulated onion

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cayenne

1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

For the frying:


Vegetable shortening (peanut or vegetable oil will work, too)

Preparation:
For the chicken brine:

Place the water (not the ice water), sugar, salt, and all spices in a pot and bring to simmer over medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Whisk to ensure that spices and sugar have dissolved completely. Remove from heat and combine with ice water to chill. Let chill until at least 40 degrees. Place the cut chicken in a container and pour the cold liquid brine over it. Chill in refrigerator for 24 hours.

For the seasoned flour:

Mix all spices and flour well.

For the frying:

  • Remove the chicken from the brine and dredge in the seasoned flour.
  • Place the shortening in a pan (cast iron preferred) and melt slowly. The goal is to have the shortening about 1/2 inch up the side of the pan. Heat the shortening over low heat until it reaches 325 degrees. Use a candy thermometer to regulate the temperature.
  • Place the breasts and thighs in the pan, skin side down. After 8 minutes, flip the pieces over and continuing frying for another 6 minutes.
  • Remove from pan and let sit on a wire rack or plate lined with paper towels. Stick the thickest pieces with a meat thermometer; the chicken must reach 165 degrees. Season lightly with a pinch of sea salt.
  • Place the wings and drums in the oil making sure to maintain 325 degrees. After 5 minutes, flip the pieces and continuing frying for another 4 minutes.
  • Remove from pan and let sit on a wire rack or plate lined with paper towels. Stick the thickest pieces with a meat thermometer; the chicken must reach 165 degrees. Season lightly with a pinch of sea salt before serving.

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