John Currence’s Cola-Fried Chicken

Category: 
Main Courses

by Chef John Currence of City Grocery Restaurant Group in Oxford, Mississippi

Fairly difficult

John Currence’s Cola-Fried Chicken

Ingredients

For 4 Serving(s)

Brine

  • 5 cups Coca-Cola
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 10 sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 teaspoons Crystal Hot Sauce

Frying

  • 8 cups peanut oil
  • 2 cups lard, optional
  • Hot sauce, for serving

Spice Blend

  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder

Recipe

  • 8 small chicken thighs, preferably free-range and organic (about 4 oz. each)

Batter

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cups peanut or vegetable oil

John Currence’s Cola-Fried Chicken Directions

  1. To make the brine, combine the cola, salt, thyme, garlic and hot sauce in a large metal bowl and stir until the salt has dissolved. Add the chicken thighs, cover and refrigerate 4 - 5 hours. 
  2. Make the spice blend by mixing the salt, paprika cayenne, sage, rosemary and onion and garlic powders together in a bowl. Pack into a sealed plastic or glass container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. 
  3. To make the batter, blend together the flour, baking soda, salt, black pepper, cayenne and onion and garlic powders in a large bowl. Whisk in the water and the oil until fully incorporated. (When mixing wet and dry ingredients, always add the wet to the dry as it keeps the batter from clumping.) Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed. 
  4. To fry the chicken, warm the peanut oil and lard in a large cast-iron Dutch oven over medium heat to 375 degrees. Decrease the heat to low and monitor the temperature using a candy or frying thermometer—adjusting he heat to maintain the temperature at 375 degrees. 
  5. Drain the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels. 
  6. Sprinkle both sides liberally with the spice blend and pat dry again. 
  7. One by one, dip the chicken thighs into the batter and let the excess batter run off. 
  8. Carefully and slowly lower the thighs into the hot oil. Fry just a few at a time, if necessary. The chicken will quickly lower the temperature of the oil, so increase the heat to high to return the oil to 375 degrees as quickly as possible. The quicker the batter is sealed to the surface of the chicken, the less oil will permeate the meat. 
  9. As soon as the oil returns to temperature, lower the heat to medium-low. After 3 minutes, turn the chicken. (If the pieces rest on the bottom of the Dutch oven for too long, they can overbrown.) Allow the thighs to cook for another 3 minutes before turning again to cook for a final 2 minutes. 
  10. Remove one of the thighs to drain on a brown-paper grocery bag (nothing else will do). Pierce the thigh at the thickest point with a small knife and press on the meat with the side of the blade. If the juice comes out clear, remove the rest of the pieces from the oil and allow to drain briefly, until you can no longer wait to bite into one.

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