by Susan Hanna
If you are looking for a special meal for the August long weekend, look no further than Bon Ton chicken – a recipe from the July 2000 issue of Gourmet magazine, based on the fried chicken served at the Bon Ton Mini Mart in Henderson, Kentucky. I’ve been making this recipe for 13 years, and it is, hands-down, the best fried chicken recipe I have ever tried. Chicken pieces are brined in a spicy mixture of water, salt, cayenne, garlic powder, white pepper, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce for 24 hours, then dredged in seasoned flour and allowed to sit for 10 minutes until they become doughy. The chicken is then fried; you can use a cast iron pot or a deep fryer. I use the latter, and fry the chicken in two batches for about 20 minutes per batch. The brining seasons the chicken all the way through and makes the meat moist. The coating is crunchy, spicy and addictive. You can serve the chicken hot or cold—it stays crisp.
Avoiding Additives and Preservatives
The ingredients to watch for in this recipe are the spices, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Make sure the spices do not contain additives, colour or anti-caking ingredients. Use tamari instead of soy sauce, as it does not contain sodium benzoate. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce uses all-natural ingredients. For more recipes made with all-natural ingredients, visit www.eyeforarecipe.ca.
- 4 cups (1 L) water
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) salt
- 2 tsp (10 ml) cayenne
- 2 tsp (10 ml) garlic powder
- 1 ½ tsp (7 ml) white pepper
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) soy sauce
- 2 tsp (10 ml) Worcestershire sauce
- One chicken, 3-4 lbs (1.4 kg-1.8 kg), cut up (cut breasts in half), with skin on.
About 12 cups (3 L) vegetable oil or prescribed amount of oil for your deep fryer.
- 3 cups (750 ml) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) salt (or less – this amount makes the chicken quite salty)
- 1 tsp (5 ml) garlic powder
- 1 tsp (5 ml) cayenne
- 1 tsp (5 ml) white pepper
Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a large bowl
Add chicken, making sure it is covered with marinade. Chill, covered, stirring twice, about 24 hours
Dredge and fry chicken
Heat 2 inches (5 cm) oil in a wide 8 – 9 ½ quart (8 – 9 ½ L) pot over moderately high heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 365 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (185 to 190 degrees Celsius), or use a deep fryer.
Meanwhile, whisk together all dredging ingredients in a large bowl. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Dredge each piece of chicken in seasoned flour and put on a large baking sheet. Let stand about 10 minutes.
Fry chicken (in two batches if necessary), turning a few times, 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on rack.