Andrew Carmellini's Fried Chicken

Andrew Carmellini's Fried Chicken

[Photograph: Quentin Bacon]

We've been fans of Andrew Carmellini's Fried Chicken for quite a while, seeking it out at Locanda Verde back in '09, scouting it out at the opening of The Dutch earlier this year, and enjoying it waaaay after hours. So needless to say we were thrilled to see the recipe for Carmellini's fried chicken in his newly released American Flavor because it meant that that truly awesome chicken could be ours, all ours, any time we want it.

Like all great fried chicken recipes, Carmellini's begins with a nice long soak in buttermilk, in this case buttermilk seasoned with a sweet spicy mix of cayenne, Old Bay, honey, and Tabasco. Step two is a nine-part spice mix that is incorporated into the dredging flour and sprinkled generously over the chicken once its been fried to a deep brown crisp.

For Carmellini, perfecting fried chicken involves the perfect marriage of super juicy meat and super crispy skin. We already knew he could nail it at his restaurants, but with this recipe from American Flavor, replicating his juicy-crispy-perfectly-seasoned fried chicken at home is a delicious reality.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of American Flavor to give away this week.

Adapted from American Flavor by Andrew Carmellini. Copyright © 2011. Published by Ecco. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 45 minutes
  • Total time:45 minutes plus 12 hours marinating time


  • For the buttermilk marinade:
  • 1 quart (4 cups) buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey 
  • For the chicken:
  • 2 chickens (2 pounds each—you don’t want huge chickens for this), cut up into pieces
  • 2 quarts corn oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground celery seed
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper 


  1. 1.

    To make the buttermilk marinade: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the buttermilk together with the cayenne, Old Bay, salt, pepper, Tabasco, and honey. 

  2. 2.

    Put the chicken pieces in the mixing bowl and submerge them in the buttermilk marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, put it in the fridge, and let the chicken marinate for at least 12 hours. 

  3. 3.

    To bread and fry the chicken: Pull the chicken out of the fridge and let it come up to room temperature, still in the marinade (this will take about 45 minutes). 

  4. 4.

    Preheat the oven to 200°F. 

  5. 5.

    Heat the oil in a deep pot or a deep-fryer over high heat. The oil should be 3 inches deep, and it should be so hot that it starts popping (about 350°F). A good rule of thumb: if you drop a pinch of flour into the oil and it fries up immediately, you’re good to go. 

  6. 6.

    While the oil is heating, combine the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, Old Bay, cayenne pepper, celery seed, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Mix things around with your hands so everything is distributed evenly. Pour half of the mixture into a small bowl and set it aside.

  7. 7.

    Add the remaining half of the spice mix to flour to the large bowl and mix well. 

  8. 8.

    When the oil is hot, pull a piece of chicken out of the marinade. Put it right into the dredging flour bowl and heap flour on top of it; flip it around until the chicken is completely coated. Do the same with each piece until there’s no more space in the bowl.

  9. 9.

    Pick up a piece of chicken, give it a light shake (just enough to get rid of the really loose bits of flour), and use your hands or a pair of tongs to drop it into the fry pot. Do the same with the rest of the chicken pieces. (You will definitely need to fry your chicken in batches, unless you’ve got some really big bowls and pots.) 

  10. 10.

    Let the chicken fry for about 8 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Pull the chicken pieces out of the fryer with tongs and put them on a rack set on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with the seasoning mixture, using the tongs to turn the piece so it’s coated on all sides. 

  11. 11.

    Put the baking sheet in the oven. The chicken pieces should rest in the oven for at least 10 minutes, so that the cooking process finishes. Meanwhile, fry up the next batch of chicken. 

  12. 12.

    Hold the fried chicken in the oven until all the pieces are fried and rested and you’re ready to serve it up. Then pile the chicken on a big plate, put it in the center of the table with biscuits, collards, and slaw, and let everybody start grabbing pieces. I guarantee it will disappear fast.