A sweet-tea brine, a buttermilk soak and a fry in lard: Chef Josh Galliano details the steps behind his renowned recipe.
Chef Josh Galliano believes that perfect fried chicken can’t be rushed. His secret is this careful sequence: He plumps the bird in a sweet-tea brine overnight and then tenderizes it with a buttermilk–hot sauce soak the next day. Then he dredges it in a mix of cornmeal, cornstarch and flour (plus his own homemade Creole seasoning) and fries it to a shattering crisp in a cast-iron skillet of lard. The result is so delicious—the crunch, the briny juiciness, the peppery spice—that his special monthly fried chicken dinners at the Libertine in St. Louis have sold out for nearly two years running, and now he’s planning a second restaurant that will focus on his renowned recipe. “There is a difference when you brine, when you soak, when you fry with lard. That’s the traditional flavor,” Galliano explains. Coming from a long line of chicken fryers, he respects that tradition: His mother grew up in rural Mississippi, where every Sunday it was her job to go out back and “get the chicken” so her grandmother could fry it up in a big cast-iron skillet. “My customers say my chicken reminds them of the fried chicken their families made when they were young,” he says, “and that’s a hell of a compliment.”