A Yankee Chef’s take on Carolina dipped chicken

By Jim Bailey

Boy, I thought we Mainers had a contentious chowder debate with New York, but it is nothing compared to North and South Carolina when it comes to dipped, fried chicken.

Seems though every single region of the Carolinas is feverishly devout to what they think is the correct way of making dipped chicken. So I am simply going to offer my rendition, substituting the superfluous marinating of the chicken in sugary, salty water as a brine.

It really doesn’t accomplish anything. But letting the chicken sit as directed below is going to truly surprise you. Crispy yet soft, it is what I think is the ultimate in Carolina-based dipped chicken.

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon each black pepper, salt and baking powder
1/2 teaspoon each chili powder and garlic powder
2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 quarts oil for frying


For the sauce:
1 1/2 cups hot sauce of your choice
1/4 cup each Worcestershire sauce and olive oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside

In a large bowl, blend flour, cornstarch, pepper, salt, baking powder, chili powder and garlic powder. Whisk eggs and milk together in another large bowl. Add chicken pieces, working in batches if needed, into milk mixture. Swirl around to evenly coat.

Remove a few pieces at a time, allow excess milk to drain and dredge in flour mixture. Coat evenly and transfer to a large plate. Continue until all chicken is evenly coated.

Sprinkle remaining flour mixture over the top of the coated chicken, cover with film wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

When ready, pour oil for frying in a large sturdy pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat until 325-degrees F is reached, or follow manufacturers instructions in your deep fryer.

While this is heating, make sauce by whisking all ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

Remove chicken from refrigerator and separate each chicken piece. They will be sticky and cling together.

Working in 3 batches, returning oil to proper temperature between each batch, very carefully drop chicken pieces into hot oil.

Once a third of the chicken has been dropped, grab a long handled utensil to carefully swirl chicken in oil, making sure to turn each over at least once. This will prevent too much browning on any side.

Remove after about 2 minutes, or when completely cooked through and well browned.

Continue until all chicken is cooked, placing on paper towel-lined plate or rack.

Dip all cooked chicken in sauce and coat very well, serving hot.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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