Arnold's Country Kitchen Fried Chicken
If there’s one place you absolutely must visit in Nashville, it’s Arnold’s Country Kitchen, a humble meat-and-three that brings the entire community to the table. It was founded by North Carolina native Jack Arnold in 1983; his eldest son, Khalil, now serves as chef and is constantly tweaking family recipes, like using horseradish and wasabi powder for heat and a touch of sugar to enhance the natural sweetness of his turnip greens. A line forms outside the long, narrow brick structure long before the doors open at 10:30 AM. From that moment until they close for the day at 2:30, the queue simply never lets up, inside snaking past shelves stacked with upside-down take-out containers waiting to be filled with the restaurant’s famous sides. Everything on the rotating menu—from garlicky, fat-capped roast beef and stewed okra to a devilish, chili-laced chocolate pie—is to die for, but we came for the fried chicken—and it didn’t disappoint. Available only on Mondays, it’s the kind of crunchy, deeply satisfying bird you order in quantities and take home for leftovers. There’s no reason food this simple should taste this good, but we’re so grateful that it does.
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe CourseMain Course
Dietary ConsiderationPeanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free
- 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 or 10 pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 large eggs
- ½ cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
- 5 cups all-purpose flour, preferably White Lily brand
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- Canola oil, for frying
Season the chicken: Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry. Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag and season liberally with salt and pepper. Let chill while making the wash and dredge.
Make the wash and dredge: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and hot sauce with 4 cups cold water. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, and poultry seasoning. (If making the fried chicken livers, reserve about 1½ cups of the dredge.) Fill a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with 2 inches oil and heat to 350°F.
Fry the chicken: Remove the wash from the refrigerator and dip the chicken in the wash, then press the chicken in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Let the chicken rest on a plate, refrigerated, for 10 minutes, then re-press the chicken in the flour dredge. Line a platter with a cloth napkin or paper towels and set aside. Working in batches, place the chicken in the hot skillet and cook until the underside is golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook until the other side is golden brown, an additional 7 to 8 minutes (some of the smaller pieces, like the legs and wings, will be done faster than the breasts or thighs). Place the chicken on the lined platter to drain. Season with additional salt, if desired, and serve hot or at room temperature.
A quick soak in a hot-sauce brine gives Arnold’s fried chicken a kick. Though the Arnolds use White Lily brand all-purpose flour, any brand will do. We also adored their fried chicken livers (served at the restaurant with an onion gravy), which couldn’t be simpler and use the same flour dredge as the chicken. If you’re making the livers right after the chicken, use the leftover flour mix; if you make them on their own (see the recipe), a quarter of the flour dredge recipe is plenty.
2014 Lee Brian Schrager & Adeena Sussman