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Sean Brock's Secret, 'Old-School, Old-Fashioned' Fried Chicken

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Photo: @hseanbrock

Yesterday Charleston chef Sean Brock tweeted a photo and a sizzle-porny video of "chicken frying in butter, chicken fat, bacon fat and country ham fat" at his restaurant Husk. This wondrous alchemy of fats is now available by request only, and requires 48 hours notice. Oh, and Brock says "reservations only thru me."

The chef, known for geeking out on old-school Southern cooking, spent a year tweaking this recipe. Thus far, it's been ordered only four times in the restaurant. This will change. Here Brock explains the how and the why of this elaborate (and buttermilk-free) fried chicken.

Why all the fats?
I don't have anything against deep-fried buttermilk fried chicken. I think it's fantastic. But old-timey, old-school, old-fashioned fried chicken is a whole different beast. I've been reading all these old Southern cookbooks, from the 1700s and 1800s. They would take lard and any sort of scraps they had around of country ham or bacon, they would throw that in the pan and infuse it into the lard, then they would fry it very, very slowly.

The last stage of the cooking process is cranking up the heat and throw in half a pound of butter that's what happening in the video. That butter just melts and goes crazy and browns and just makes that skin so crunchy and delicious.

Is the crunchy skin the reason you do it this way?
What we're trying to achieve is crackling skin. When you don't use the buttermilk and you just dredge it in the flour, it's almost like roast chicken skin in a way. You taste the chicken more; you taste the skin more. There's very little breading; it's a whole different beast.
If you use too much country ham it's really salty and overpowers the chicken. We recently figured out a way to get a bunch of chicken fat; chicken fat is hard to come by.

Why not just put it on the menu?
We're at the point now where we're really happy with the product but we can't figure out how to do it with a busy restaurant. Frying takes 35 minutes and you really gotta watch it. If we get 12 orders of fried chicken, then nobody else is getting any food.

Ordering this means contacting you directly, not just calling the restaurant?
Right now it's only really people that have heard me talk about going through these trials or people that know people that work here. Occasionally I'll have somebody ask; you have to contact me through Twitter.

We've never really served fried chicken here because I'm a fried chicken snob. I don't want to serve it unless it's really memorable. If we're going to serve these iconic things, they have to be tremendous.

So how much?
I have no idea. Let's say $30.

· All Sean Brock Coverage on Eater [-E-]


76 Queen Street Charleston, SC 29401-2220

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