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Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce by Rebecca Lang

by Grace Bonney

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As a southerner, I’m 99% sure that a deep and abiding love for fried chicken is hardwired in my DNA. I know exactly how I prefer my fried chicken (heavy on the crispy bits, with a side of soft yeast rolls and honey for dipping), but I’m an equal opportunity eater when it comes to different fried chicken recipes. So when I heard from Rebecca Lang about her new cookbook devoted entirely to fried chicken recipes, I listened.

Fried Chicken: Recipes for the Crispy, Crunchy, Comfort-Food Classic, is Rebecca’s new book and it’s chock-full of recipes that are perfect for picnics, barbecues, weddings (why not?) and everyday weeknight dinners. While looking through the book I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and try something different than my usual “no sauce” or “red BBQ sauce only” tendencies. Rebecca has a recipe for “Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce” that looked amazing, so I asked if we could share it here today and thankfully she sent it over! If you need something truly delicious to make for your summer weekend, I can’t think of a tastier recipe. This reminds me of July 4th and watermelon and fireworks like nothing else. Thanks so much to Rebecca for sharing this recipe — you can check out her new book and order online at IndieBound or anywhere else books are sold online. xo, grace

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Credit: Reprinted with permission from Fried Chicken, by Rebecca Lang, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce

While living in Birmingham, Alabama, I had my first and eye-opening taste of white barbecue sauce. To first see a barbecue sauce that’s on the opposite end of the color spectrum from the typical red varieties is intriguing. Its tart, peppery creaminess is simply wonderful. Common throughout North Alabama, the tangy pale sauce is at its best on chicken, whether fried or grilled.

SERVES 6

WHITE BARBECUE SAUCE

2 cups mayonnaise
3⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
11⁄2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 chicken (about 4 pounds), backbone removed and cut in half (see page 7)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
Canola oil, for frying

To make the barbecue sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, pepper, brown sugar, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Pour 11⁄2 cups of the sauce into a large zip-top bag. Cover and refrigerate the remaining sauce for serving.

Place the chicken in the bag. Seal the bag, rub to coat the chicken, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

In a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish, whisk together 2 cups of the flour, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. In another 9 by 13-inch casserole dish, whisk together the cornmeal and the remaining 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper.

In a large heavy skillet, heat 11⁄4 inches of canola oil over medium heat to 340°F. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Remove one chicken half from the zip-top bag, returning the remaining one to the refrigerator. Dredge the chicken in the first flour mixture (without cornmeal), shaking off any excess, then dip it into the egg mixture, and dredge it in the cornmeal mixture. As you dip the chicken in each mixture, lift the wing and leg away from the breast to thoroughly coat all surfaces.

Carefully place the chicken in the hot oil, breast side down. Fry, turning every 5 minutes, for 25 to 27 minutes, or until cooked through and juices run clear. Maintain a frying temperature of 300°F. Drain the chicken on the wire rack. Discarding the marinade, repeat with the remaining chicken.

Serve with the reserved barbecue sauce.

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Comments

  • this looks amazing!

    i just recently cut wheat out of my diet and was wondering what kind of flour would be best substitute for the all purpose the recipe calls for. thanks!

    emily

    • My husband is allergic to gluten, and we eat kinda generally try to keep all grains on the down low. I make fried chicken using either a gluten free flour blend (like Bob’s Red Mill), or tapioca flour for a fully grain-free meal. Tapioca flour takes a little practice if you’ve never used it, but I’ve subbed gf flour straight up for wheat flour in recipes like this lots of times with great success (i.e. the kids don’t notice).

  • Great timing on this recipe! Fried chicken is beloved here in the South in general, but especially on the 4th of July, where it’s importance is totally on par with turkey on Thanksgiving. This has inspired me to try to make our own (vs. our usual take-out FC bucket) for this year’s celebration!

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