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Paula Patton responds to people roasting her for ‘unseasoned’ fried chicken recipe

Regardless of the heat she’s received, Patton said she’s keeping calm and frying on.
/ Source: TODAY

For fans of fried chicken, Paula Patton’s well-intentioned take on the dish is far from cut and dried.

In a recent video posted to the actor's Instagram, the “Four Kids and It” star shared how to make her “mom’s favorite fried chicken.” The post, which started out innocently enough, quickly received the ire of fried chicken connoisseurs on Twitter where the debate on how to properly clean raw chicken — and then fry it — was thoroughly rehashed.

The entire saga began a month ago when Patton posted her demonstration of how to prepare and fry 138 chicken wings on her Instagram. However, the post was reinvigorated when Olympic track and field athlete Ashley Spencer shared a reaction video to TikTok on Monday.

Initially, Spencer and Patton seemed to be in sync with how to cook the American classic, particularly when the actress noted “one of the most important things if you’re going to cook fried chicken is you gotta clean it.”

“Gotta clean it,” Spencer chimed in as Patton got to work. 

Still, Patton’s method took a dark turn for Spencer as the latter realized their separate standards for cleaning the bird veered paths. In the video, Patton gives the chicken a brisk cold-water rinse. “That chicken ain’t clean,” Spencer protested at the sight of Patton moving onto the next step which included placing the raw meat into flour.

“Where are your seasonings, Paula?” Spencer asked, watching as Patton shook the chicken in a bag of flour. "This is your mom's recipe?"

The seasoning, it turns out, took place mid-fry — much to Spencer’s dismay.

“We’re gonna place these in,” Paula explained, as she laid the wings into the oil. “And then we’re gonna begin the seasoning.” She then begins shaking her seasonings — Lawry's Seasoned Salt, black pepper and paprika — onto the partially submerged chicken.

“The spices fell off in the grease,” Spencer exclaimed and soon after covered her mouth at the sight of the oil in the pan which appeared heavily seasoned.

Soon after sharing her response on Twitter, Spencer’s dismay over Patton's method garnered a chorus of protests.

"Paula Patton just ruined my day," one user wrote in a viral Tweet that shared Spencer's TikTok. The tweet prompted a bevy of comments that branched off into different debates, including whether or not Patton had properly cleaned her chicken, whether or not she had properly seasoned it, and if her racial background had an influence on the entire matter.

"Paula Patton really shook unseasoned chicken in a bag of unseasoned flour while smiling," tweeted one person.

"When she said it was her mother’s recipe and she biracial, all I could think was, 'her mom is definitely white'. Sure enough I was right," another user wrote.

"Dear Black People: Spend more time with your mixed children and teach them how to make Black and Southern food properly," another commenter posted. "Paula Patton’s chicken is a disgrace to our cuisine."

Patton, who has spent much of her career starring in Black films, has been vocal in the past about her racial identity. In a 2021 interview with SiriusXM’s Urban View "The Clay Cane Show," she explained why she preferred to identify as Black despite having a white mother.

“The politics of race in our country are such that when (some)one wants to make it very clear that they’re not Black, it’s a way to keep them separate from Black people,” she explained. “We know, we’ve had a long history in this country of it not being popular to be Black, to be honest with you. I’ve always found that to be an offensive term. I’m Black and I embrace it, that’s my family.”

Not all of the comments about Patton's recipe were so personal, however.

"I need to try this," wrote a more optimistic Twitter user. "It might be good."

Popeyes even chimed into the discord, replying "Hmph. Great gowns...," in a cheeky nod to Black icon Aretha Franklin's expert shade.

What do the culinary experts say?

In an email to TODAY Food, Hervé Malivert, Director of Culinary Affairs at the Institute of Culinary Education said he didn’t feel that Paula did anything wrong with her approach.

“Everyone cooks differently and I don’t think anything Paula did was wrong,” he explained. “However, if I was cooking this recipe, I would do a few things differently. When Paula washes her chicken, she could rinse the chicken in a bowl filled with water to minimize splashing and cross-contamination. She may have wiped down the sink after the video was recorded, we don’t know. I personally don’t wash chicken.”

Malivert also noted that the actor wasn’t necessarily wrong in choosing to add seasoning to her chicken while frying.

“Because Paula is not using a lot of oil to pan-fry (rather than deep-fry the chicken), seasoning the chicken in the oil can work here,” he explained. “Personally, I would season the chicken wings first before placing them in the flour for at least 5-10 minutes, so the spices have time to penetrate the meat fully. Paula did cook small wings, but it’s likely the spices are just on the exterior of the chicken.”

Regardless of the heat she's received, Patton said she's keeping calm and frying on.

In a video shared to her Instagram on Tuesday, captioned “Peace, love and fried chicken,” Patton replied to comments on her viral recipe.

“I just wanted to respond and say listen, I get it,” she said in the video, where she appeared to be in good spirits and smiling while on vacation in Mexico. “It might look crazy. It is the way we do it. My mom taught me; it is my mom’s recipe. I do believe in washing the chicken, and maybe the way the video was edited, it looks like I don’t wash it long enough. But I definitely do because I feed it to my son.”

Patton explained that the 16 pounds of chicken she prepared in the video was made to serve her son Julian's entire school.

"I made it for school. But anyways, it’s all good because everybody’s got their own way of making things and I’ll take suggestions. I make a new kind of fried chicken," she quipped. "But I’m going to always make my mom’s chicken the way that she did it. We put the seasoning in the oil and all that, it’s just the way we do it."

Patton signed off the post remarking that she appreciated the feedback from commenters as a means for improvement, proving that for her, it's all gravy. "I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday," she said before ending the video. "Sending you all love."