Serves 5 • Prep Time: 15 minutes • Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Mama was one of thirty-six children, and each one of her siblings had seven or eight children themselves. A running joke in Wilson is that everyone is cousins. Fried chicken fed large families, and many families raised their own chickens. I remember my mama’s fried chicken before people started buying packaged processed chickens in supermarkets. I will never forget the taste of farm-raised chicken; the meat was so juicy. She learned how to make fried chicken from my grandmother Beatrice. When we were little, we would go to our grandmother’s house, and her chicken and biscuits would be on a platter covered with a tea cloth on the stove. Even after we would play for hours and come inside our grandmother’s home, those chicken and biscuits were still kicking. – Ed Mitchell
I remember the cast-iron skillet. My grandmother was meticulous about cleaning chicken. She washed the chicken for hours before she fried it. I always thought that’s why it tasted so good. Growing up, her chicken was thoroughly cleaned, seasoned well, and dry battered straight into a hot frying pan. The skin was a beautiful golden bronze. It wasn’t overly crunchy. Grandmother’s chicken was still crispy three days later in the refrigerator. I think my grandmother’s generation had better ingredients; processing food has changed a lot of the flavor of food. We do our best to bring the flavor of the past to our customers. – Ryan Mitchell, Ed Mitchell’s son
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
2 tablespoons plus
1 cup buttermilk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground sage
1 whole chicken (farm-raised is the best), washed then cut into 8 pieces
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Canola oil or lard, for frying
IN a small bowl, whisk together the honey, cayenne, 1 teaspoon of the paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover the bowl and set it aside at room temperature. In another small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, garlic, remaining 3 teaspoons paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, sage, and black pepper. Pour the buttermilk mixture into a large resealable plastic bag and add the chicken. Close the bag and shake thoroughly to coat the chicken. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
TAKE the chicken out of the refrigerator 1 hour before you’re ready to cook it so it can come to room temperature. In a large baking dish, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon salt.
FILL a large cast-iron skillet about halfway with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the bag, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bag, and place the chicken in the flour mixture. Dredge each piece lightly to coat on all sides and transfer to a plate. Discard the excess buttermilk and flour mixtures.
ONCE the oil is at medium heat, working in batches of four, use tongs to place the chicken in the skillet. Cook the chicken, turning the pieces every few minutes and adjusting the heat as needed, until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is 175ºF internally.
PLATE the chicken and drizzle with the honey mix.
Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque$30.99
Excerpted from Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque © 2023 by Ed Mitchell and Ryan Mitchell. Food & Author photos by Baxter Miller. Reproduced by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. Author photography with black background by John “Edge” Koladish.