Matzo-Meal Fried Chicken
Michael W. Twitty’s use of matzo meal to coat his fried chicken is an ode to the innovative Black women of the American South, including his own ancestors. Marrying the traditions of Black southern cooking with Southern Ashkenazi Jewish culinary ones, Black women in cities like Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C., New Orleans and Nashville preserved their African heritage and local Jewish customs through this fried chicken. The fragrant spice mixture is enough to gather droves of people around the table, and the dish’s Southern charm is evident with the first crispy, tender and juicy bite.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 1teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 2teaspoons poultry seasoning
- 1teaspoon paprika
- ¼teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼teaspoon ground cloves
- 2whole kosher chickens, preferably fryers (3 to 3 1/2 pounds each)
- 4large eggs
- 2cups matzo meal
- Neutral oil, for frying (see Tip)
Step 1Combine the salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves in a bowl.
Step 2Rinse chickens and pat dry. Cut each into pieces: breasts, wings, drumsticks and thighs. If the breast halves are very large, cut them in half crosswise. Season the chicken all over with the spice mixture, cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
Step 3Beat the eggs with a fork in a shallow dish, then mix in 2 tablespoons water. Place matzo meal in another dish. Set up two racks over two large baking sheets lined with paper towels. Dip each chicken piece in the eggs to thoroughly coat, then in the matzo meal. Set on the racks, arranging breasts, wings, legs and thighs together. Let sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature so the coating can set.
Step 4Meanwhile, add oil to a depth of 1 1/4 inches in a large, deep frying pan or Dutch oven and heat over medium to about 325 degrees. Working in batches by chicken parts and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a steady sizzle, fry the breasts then the dark meat until browned all around and 165 degrees or higher for white meat and 175 degrees for dark meat, 7 to 8 minutes per side. If needed, continue cooking pieces to brown evenly or cook through, about 4 minutes. Use your best judgment (and a meat thermometer): Crispy and golden brown on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean done on the inside.
Step 5Line large platters with paper towels. As the chicken pieces finish cooking, remove them with tongs and place them on the platters to drain. Sprinkle with salt, if you’d like, and serve hot or warm.