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Marcus Samuelsson's Fried Yardbird

Marcus Samuelsson
Nathan Congleton/TODAY


Chicken Shake
  • 4 tablespoons berbere
  • 4 tablespoons hot smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons celery salt
  • teaspoons granulated garlic
  • teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chicken shake, plus more for serving (recipe above)
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup semolina flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground white pepper

Chef notes

The great New Orleans Chef Leah Chase said to Julia Child, "I don't care where you're from or who you are. There's nothing like a good piece of fried chicken." I couldn't agree more! My signature fried chicken is moist, crispy, flavorful and satisfying.


For the chicken shake:

Whisk all ingredients together. Store in an airtight jar, in a cool dark place for up to 6 months.

For the chicken:


Put 2 cups of the water and the salt into the saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour into a large container, add the remaining 6 cups water, and cool to room temperature. Add the chicken, cover and refrigerate for 1½ hours. Drain.


Whisk the buttermilk, coconut milk, garlic and chicken shake together in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Submerge the chicken in the marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight.


Fill a large saucepan one third full with peanut oil. Set over medium-high heat and heat to 360°F.


Put the flour, semolina, cornstarch and white pepper into a bowl and whisk to combine. Let any excess marinade drip off the chicken, then roll in the flour coating, packing it on. Place on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet (if the coating looks damp, roll it in the flour again).


Working batches, fry the chicken until it is a rich brown and has an internal temperature of 165°F, about 10 minutes per batch. Keep an eye on the heat and adjust it to keep the oil between 350°F-375°F. Drain on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.


Season the finished chicken with a sprinkle of chicken shake and serve.