Crisp and Crunchy Southern Fried Chicken

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Love you some crisp and crunchy fried chicken? Here it is!

We’re eclectic eaters in my house. There’s me, living mainly on plant food, raw juices and wishful thinking, my teenage daughter the recent convert to vegetarianism, my teenage son who likes all food as long as there’s plenty of it but who refuses fruit in any form, and their dad, who eats all the leftovers with a smile on his face. Oh, don’t forget two cats who eat dog food, and the Jack Russell Daisy, who is perpetually hungry and terrified of missing out on anything.

I somehow knew a spread of raw juice cocktails and a fruit platter for lunch would go down like a lead balloon today. Fried and crispy they wanted; fried and crispy they got.

Besides, I’ve long wanted to find the perfect Southern Fried Chicken recipe, and this is it. Yes, it’s a bit of a palaver to put together, and the end stages resemble a production line, but heck: it’s good.

Making sure the chicken stays juicy on the inside while cooking to a crisp shell on the outside takes a bit of nous. First marinate the chicken portions overnight in a bath of buttermilk. Don’t ask me why, Southern know-how decrees it. And it works. For all I know, you could marinate it in beer or the tears of a vegetarian locavore with similar results, but for the time being let’s just stick to the buttermilk. Y’all be down with that? Good.

Chomping down on a crispy piece of fried chicken to find pink and underdone flesh inside is a no-no. Not only a nasty experience, but dangerous too. Ever heard of salmonella? Yeah. Sidestep this unhappy occurrence by precooking the chicken – in your microwave on 80 % power for 7 minutes, or else at a gentle simmer in some stock on your stovetop for 15 minutes. Let it cool completely. I repeat, LET IT COOL COMPLETELY before moving on to the next step, which is crumbing. Have 3 bowls at the ready: one with seasoned flour, one with beaten egg and milk, and one with crumbs. Send the chicken portions through each and the last ones twice, before placing on a plate and chilling for 20 minutes. Then get fryin’.

The blue cheese sauce probably has no roots of any origin other than the fevered brilliance of my own mind (*cough*) but I felt like it, so I made some. It was good.


Start by marinating the chicken the night before you want to cook it

Serves 4


8 chicken portions on the bone – 4 thighs, 4 drumsticks. Breasts are no good here at all.

500 ml buttermilk

1 cup (250 ml) flour, seasoned well with salt, pepper and BBQ spice

2 eggs, whisked until smooth in 1 cup (250 ml) milk

3 cups (750 ml) fine dried breadcrumbs

oil for frying

smoked paprika for dusting

Blue Cheese Cream:

30g blue cheese, crumbled

1 1/2 cup (375 ml) cream

salt and pepper to taste (remember, blue cheese is quite salty, so taste before you season)

squirt of lemon juice


1/2 t (2.5 ml) English mustard powder

2 spring onions (scallions), very finely chopped

1 T (15 ml) finely chopped garlic chives


  1. Place the chicken portions in a deep glass bowl and pour the buttermilk over it. Stir with a wooden spoon to make sure each piece is coated. Cover with clingwrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. About 2 hours before you want to fry the chicken, remove the bowl from the fridge. Rinse the chicken under running water and pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Discard the buttermilk. Wash the glass bowl and put the dry chicken pieces back in it.
  3. Precook the chicken in the microwave for 7 minutes at 80 % power, or simmer very gently in stock on your stovetop for 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry and let cool completely.
  4. Crumb the chicken portions by rolling each piece in seasoned flour, dipping into the egg and milk, and then rolling in the crumbs. Repeat the last two steps. Place crumbed chicken portions on a plate and refrigerate for 20 minutes while you make the blue cheese cream.
  5. Blue cheese cream: heat all the ingredients except garlic chives together until slightly thickened. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with chives.
  6. Remove the chicken from the fridge and heat up enough oil to deepfry. By the time the oil is hot enough, the chicken will have warmed a little.
  7. Deepfry 4 pieces of chicken at a time until dark golden brown. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper and dust with a little smoked paprika. Serve hot with the blue cheese cream, a heap of fries and fried onion rings, and some token salad leaves on the side for colour.
Crisp and Crunchy Southern Fried Chicken with Blue Cheese Cream
Crisp and Crunchy Southern Fried Chicken with Blue Cheese Cream


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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.