Melba’s Throwdown Fried Chicken Recipe

Melba’s Throwdown Fried Chicken Recipe

Melba Wilson is a culinary pro who’s made quite the name for herself.  Her restaurants, which include her signature Melba’s Restaurant in Harlem, have been community landmarks.  Her food, makes any wait time worth it.  She has appeared on television several times and this recipe for Melba’s Throwdown Fried Chicken actually beat out Bobby Flay on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!  No surprise to anyone who’s ever had it.  Now you can make it yourself with this simple recipe from her new cookbook, Melba’s American Comfort.

A lot of people might just give up on making fried chicken before they ever start, figuring there’s no way they’re going to be able to duplicate that crispy crust and moist, steamy, perfectly seasoned interior you get with a commercial deep-fryer. Might as well go to a restaurant or get takeout, right? Wrong! Great fried chicken is actually surprisingly easy to pull off at home if you just follow a few basic principles: Use a big enough pan or pot, keep the oil hot, don’t crowd the pan, take your time, put a lot of love into it, and have loads of fun.

This is the chicken that, along with my eggnog waffles (see page 4), won Bobby Flay’s Throwdown on national TV.

1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown mustard
2 cups buttermilk Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Goya Sazonador seasoning*

*This is what I used on the Throwdown, but you could also substitute Melba Spice (page 128) if you prefer.

  1. Put the chicken pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, paprika, poultry seasoning, and garlic powder. Add the mustard and, using your hands (clean, of course), work all the seasonings into the meat. Pour in the buttermilk, cover with plastic wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, pour 3 inches of oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) and heat to 325 degrees over medium heat.

  3. While the oil is heating, combine the flour and Sazonador seasoning in a large brown paper bag. Add a few pieces of chicken at a time to the seasoned flour and shake the bag like you really mean it. Fry the chicken in batches until it is beautifully brown and crispy on one side, about 15 minutes. Then turn and cook on the other side until the chicken registers 160 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer, about another 15 minutes.

  4. As the pieces are done, transfer them to drain on paper towels.

Melba’s Throwdown Fried Chicken As featured in Melba’s American Cookbook
Melba's Throwdown Fried Chicken
Copyright © 2016 by Melba Wilson from MELBA’S AMERICAN COMFORT published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit is the editor of Parlé Magazine. He founded the magazine while in college and continues to run it today. Follow him on IG: @parlewithme Read more articles by Kevin.

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