Back home in Charlottesville, Virginia, the best fried chicken I’ve tasted comes from a tiny unassuming restaurant beside the train tracks. At Wayside Ole’ Virginia Fried Chicken, just $11 gets you a piping hot box of 8 drumsticks, breasts, thighs and wings, dark and light meat. Order some sides — biscuits, hush puppies, coleslaw, green beans — and a couple of old-school glass bottles of bubbly burgundy Cheerwine — I’m looking at you, North Carolina! — and you can’t beat it.
But now that the Fentress Swanson household has relocated to LA, I’m on the lookout for good fried chicken here, and I’ve got to say: the country-style chicken at Howlin’ Rays ain’t too shabby. Here’s where to find out more about the dynamic duo behind this recipe.
Howlin’ Rays’ Country fried chicken
1 whole chicken (3–4 lbs), patted dry and quartered
Dry Rub Ingredients
2 tbsps Kosher salt
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp white pepper
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsps Louisiana hot sauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps Kosher salt
Peanut oil, for frying
Marinate the chicken: In a mixing bowl, combine the Kosher salt, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and white pepper. Toss the chicken quarters in the spice blend to make sure they are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.
Whisk the milk and hot sauce together in a medium-size bowl.
Batter the chicken: In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture and shake off any excess.
Next, dip the flour-coated chicken pieces in the bowl containing the milk and hot sauce, shaking off any excess liquid. Return the chicken to the flour mixture and roll to coat evenly. Shake again.
Fry the chicken: Heat the peanut oil to 325ºF. Set a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
Working in batches, lower the chicken pieces into the hot oil and fry until crisp. The breast quarters should take about 15 to 17 minutes to reach 160ºF at their thickest point; the leg quarters should take about 18 to 20 minutes to reach 165ºF. Remove the chicken from the oil and transfer to the rack to drain. Allow to cool slightly, then serve.