David’s Famous Fried Chicken

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Over the years this delectable fried chicken, served with Creamed Spinach and plenty of piping hot Herbed Biscuits, has been our most requested staff meal. Depending on the season and my mood, I sometimes make Summertime Creamed Corn or Cider Vinegar Slaw instead of spinach.

Fried chicken, like barbecue, is one of those quintessential American dishes that all home cooks and chefs are convinced they make better than anyone else. And I’m no exception. Marinating the chicken in buttermilk boldly seasoned with Tabasco and harissa has a tenderizing effect. The buttermilk also serves as a thick coating that absorbs more flour, which is the secret to moist and crunchy fried chicken. Doublecoating further ensures a nice crisp crust. The marinated pieces are coated heavily in flour and refrigerated for an hour to give the marinade time to absorb the flour, then just before frying, the pieces are lightly coated again. This fried chicken is just as delicious at room temperature as it is served hot from the frying pan.

Test the pieces after 20 minutes. If some pieces are done before others (white meat cooks faster than dark), remove them from the skillet. Also, if the chicken is browning too quickly, adjust the heat. You want the chicken to hit the perfect crispness and color at the same time that the meat is cooked through.


Cooking Methodfrying



Total Timea day or more

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionFamily Get-together, game day

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free


Taste and Texturecrisp, crunchy, meaty, savory


  • 2 chickens (3 to 3½ pounds each)
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • All-purpose flour, for coating
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Coarse (kosher) salt, to taste


Rinse the chickens, inside and out, under cold running water, removing any excess fat. Cut each chicken into 8 pieces and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the buttermilk, Tabasco, and harissa in a bowl or roasting pan large enough to hold all the chicken and whisk to blend. Add the chicken pieces, turning to coat, and refrigerate, covered, for at least 8 hours and up to 16, turning the pieces occasionally.

When you’re ready to proceed with the recipe, spread about 1½ cups flour in a shallow dish or pie plate. Dip each piece of chicken heavily in flour to coat on all sides and arrange, without touching, on a large platter or baking sheet. Refrigerate for an hour, letting the flour absorb the buttermilk mixture.

If you’re planning to serve the chicken hot, preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Line a large, shallow baking pan or rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.

Pour oil to a depth of ½ inch into a large, deep, heavy skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it’s almost smoking. Just before you add each piece of chicken to the hot oil, dip it again in the flour, lightly this time, shaking off any excess. Add only enough pieces to fit into the skillet without touching; don’t crowd the pan. Fry the chicken, turning as needed, until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes per side (see Notes). Using tongs or a slotted spatula, remove the chicken pieces to the lined baking pan and, if you’re planning to serve the chicken hot, place it in the oven to keep warm while you fry the remaining chicken. Continue to fry in batches, replenishing (and reheating) the oil in the skillet as necessary and placing each batch in the oven to keep warm.

When all the chicken is fried, sprinkle with salt, transfer to a serving platter, and serve hot or at room temperature.



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