Chow Town

Best KC spots for National Fried Chicken Day, plus a great KC recipe to make yourself

The fried chicken at Rye is worth replicating at home.
The fried chicken at Rye is worth replicating at home. tljungblad@kcstar.com

Thanks to National Day Calendar, there’s usually some kind of food worth squawking about a good 365 days a year — but never more so than on National Fried Chicken Day.

Yup, that’s right. July 6 is the day someone set aside to commemorate the juicy bird in all its crispy, buttermilk-and-flour coated glory.

Now, there are plenty of famous fried chicken emporiums in and around Kansas City. You can check out plenty of local contenders in our 2016 Fried Chicken Bracket.

Go Chicken Go, a locally owned fast food chain founded in 1969 in Kansas City, Kan., is known for gizzards and G-sauce. It's up against Stroud's in the final round of The Star's monthlong fried chicken tournament.

Stroud's, which has become synonymous with fried chicken in Kansas City, is up against Go Chicken Go in the final round of The Star's monthlong fried chicken tournament.

And the winner was … (you’ll just have to click the link to find out).

Or you can road trip it to the Brookville Hotel in Abilene, Kan., Galvin’s Dinnerhouse in St. Joseph and legendary cross-street rivals Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s in Pittsburg, Kan.

You can even get your fix with a bucket of extra-crispy chicken from KFC, but you know the Colonel won’t share his recipe for the 11 herbs and spices.

Not so at Rye.

So for all you DIYers who have as much pluck as cluck, we challenge you to replicate Rye’s fried chicken recipe. Sure, it takes a bit of preparation — like 24 hours to brine and another 24 to dry — but Chow Town has unilaterally decided to extend the holiday: We’re calling it National Fried Chicken Week.

We figure it’ll help pass the time until Kansas City fried chicken fans can flock to chef Megan and Colby Garrelts’ second location on the Country Club Plaza opening this fall.

Jill Wendholt Silva is The Star’s James Beard award-winning food editor. Reach her on Facebook, at @jillsilva on Instagram and @kcstarfood on Twitter.

Rye’s Fried Chicken

Makes 1 chicken or 8 pieces

1 fresh, organic frying chicken, cut into 8 pieces

For the brine:

6 cups water

1/4 cup salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons honey

4 bay leaves

15 whole cloves

2 1/4 teaspoons pepper

1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh thyme with stems

1 lemon, zested and juiced

For the slurry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 cups water

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

4 tablespoons table salt

4 teaspoons cayenne pepper

4 teaspoons black pepper

For the dredging mixture:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 1/2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 1/2 teaspoons table salt

For frying:

1 (48-ounce) bottle vegetable oil

Place chicken pieces into a jumbo-sized, resealable plastic bag. Set aside.

To make the brine: Into a large saucepot, whisk water, salt, sugar, honey, bay leaves, cloves, pepper, parsley, thyme, and lemon juice and zest together. Stir over medium heat on stovetop until sugar and salt dissolve and mixture starts to simmer.

Take off heat and allow to cool. Pour liquid into plastic bag over chicken, seal and place in refrigerator for 24 hours, periodically turning bag, so all pieces remain in brine.

Remove chicken from brine and rinse with water. Pat dry with paper towels and put chicken pieces on a wire rack, placed on a baking sheet. Put uncovered rack of chicken back into refrigerator for another 24 hours, to allow skin to dry out.

To make the slurry: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, water, baking powder, garlic powder, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Place brined and refrigerated chicken into mixture for 5 minutes.

To make the dredging mixture: In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt.

To prepare chicken: Remove chicken from slurry and coat each piece separately in dredging mixture. Place chicken pieces, one by one, on a clean baking sheet, allowing the dredging mixture to set.

Pour enough vegetable oil into a 14-inch cast-iron pan so that it comes within 1 inch of the top of the skillet. Warm oil over medium-high heat on stovetop until it reaches 350 degrees when tested with an oil thermometer. (If you don’t have a large enough cast-iron skillet, you can use two pans, or fry chicken in batches. Do not crowd chicken in pans.)

Using tongs, carefully add dredged chicken to oil. Keep monitoring oil to maintain a consistent temperature by adjusting heat. Add breasts and thighs to pan first, followed by legs and wings.

Using tongs, turn chicken as needed to avoid over-browning. Smaller pieces may take 10 to 15 minutes, while larger pieces may need to fry 20 minutes. Fry until an instant-read meat thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into thickest parts of chicken without touching the bone.

Remove chicken from oil and drain on paper towels. Place chicken in an oven-safe dish and keep warm in an oven set to 170 degrees or bring immediately to table.

Per serving, including skin: 562 calories (75 percent from fat), 47 grams total fat (6 grams saturated), 45 milligrams cholesterol, 17 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 620 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

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