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Virginia Fried Chicken - Food Gypsy

Virginia Fried Chicken

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  • Author: Cori Horton
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4 - 6 1x


Tea brined, buttermilk soaked, and rolled in a seasoned flour-corn dredge, this Virginia Fried Chicken recipe has long been a favorite in my kitchen. Inspired by the champion of Lowcountry Southern cooking, Sean Brock, it’s pure poultry PERFECTION!




  • 10 cups water
  • 16 tea bags
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt


  • 1 chicken, about 3 pounds, cut into 8 pieces (or 3 pounds of chicken, skin on)
  • 4 cups (1 liter) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (Tobasco, Franks, Sirachia, insert your hot sauce here)

Flour Dredge

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal, or polenta cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (fresh, ground preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup lard or rendered bacon grease
  • plus flaked sea salt to finish


1) For the brine: bring water to a boil in a large pot, add tea bags and brew about 15 minutes, until dark and rich. While still hot, remove tea bags and dissolve salt and sugar in the dark tea.  Allow to cool to room temperature. Then immerse chicken pieces in brine and refrigerate overnight, for 12 hours.

2) Remove chicken from brine and immerse in a cold water bath for 5 minutes to remove impurities, then dry well with a paper towel.  Prepare the buttermilk: in a large bowl, or ziplock bag, combine buttermilk, thyme, salt, and hot sauce. Immerse chicken in seasoned buttermilk and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

3) Mix flour, cornmeal (or cornflour), cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl.  Remove chicken from buttermilk and roll each piece in flour mixture until well coated, then let stand in seasoned flour, well covered, for 15 minutes.  Remove chicken from dredge, shake off excess flour and let stand on a wire rack for another 15 minutes.

4) Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).  Now you’re ready to fry.  In a large, deep skillet heat oil and rendered fat (or lard) to 300°F (145°C).  When oil is hot, place chicken skin side down and fry for five minutes, maintaining a medium-high heat, until golden brown.  Turn and fry the other side for 5 minutes, then sear any edges that are pale or soft, so that the entire surface is well crisped.  Repeat as needed until all pieces are crisp on all sides.  Remove from skillet and place on a wire rack, well coated with non-stick spray.  Place in 350°F (175°C) oven for 15 to 25 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken) until internal temperature reads 165°F (74°C).  Remove from oven and allow to rest five to eight minutes, then serve immediately, finished with flaked sea salt.


White meat pieces finish faster than dark meat.  Temp your chicken and, if needed transfer it out of the oven so that it doesn’t dry.  I often start with the dark meat first, and put it in the oven right away, adding the white meat as it’s ready.  I find this timing works best, ensuring a perfect result.  Or, I pick up just one cut, like the photo above, and start with the larger pieces, this also works well and it means less moving things in and out of ovens.

A well-seasoned cast-iron pan is your best-fried-chicken friend.  I went copper for this batch, bigger surface, good conductivity.  Go forth and fry.

  • Cook Time: 45 Minutes
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Southern