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Beer Fried Chicken

Beer Fried Chicken

I’ve told you that in my Past Life Pre Blogging Existence I worked with gang kids in South Central LA. Like this kid, and this one. As a skinny, blonde haired, blue-eyed, 21-year-old, I didn’t exactly blend seamlessly into Compton and Watts. My  Stand Out appearance was obvious to me, but it was other oddities about the Girl From The Farm persona that were more of a surprise to me, and food was one of those things.

In my culture, while at someones house, this is the expected exchange:

Host: "Can I get you somethings to eat?"

Me: "No thanks, I’m fine."

In my Middle American Culture, this is what is expected of me and I said it without hesitation, it was polite. Except that it wasn’t. Because I wasn’t in Lunchmeat Small Town USA, I was in Compton and unknowingly offending people who wanted to feed me. It was rude to refuse food, "What? You too good for my food?!". Before I was shoved against a locker by a co-worker and schooled on the non-WASPy response to food offerings, I was offered fried chicken in a trailer park in South Central LA.

It was late afternoon on a Wednesday and my first session with a sweet 12 year old kid that had found his way from juvenile detention to a foster family living in a 1970’s mobile home, run by a short, kind, plump woman who took her job of Foster Mom as seriously as a heart attack. She was the best I’d ever seen. The house wasn’t fancy (a few weeks later I helped her install peel-and-stick vinyl that she’d found behind a dumpster onto the kitchen floor), six people lived in 400 square feet, and there was no heat or air, but she was pure love. And the woman could cook. She turned the small food budget into a feast.

I made my way up the steel steps of the house as she ushered me into the kitchen to the smell of fried chicken. "You want some?" The no thanks I’m fine standard response stuck in my throat. I did want some. I hesitated, my eyes widened, I had the look of a cartoon dog salivating over a steak plastered on my face.

"Don’t pretend like your skinny ass don’t want some of this. Sit."

So I did. I sat my skinny ass at the small kitchen table surrounded by mismatched chairs. She joined me, along with her new foster son freshly freed from Kid Jail with the remainder of a GTA still hanging on his juvenile record.

We spent the next few hours talking, laughing, and eating the best fried chicken I’d ever had.

Before I was walked to my car by an older kid who wanted to make sure I was safe, I asked her what her secret was, "Always double up on the flour. Two dips in the flour, two dips in the buttermilk." I’ll take it. She knew what she was doing.

Beer Fried Chicken2

Beer Fried Chicken


  • 3 lbs chicken legs
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 sweet white onion sliced
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 12 ounces pale ale
  • 2 tsp red chili sauce such as Sriracha or Tapatio
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • oil for frying


  • Arrange the chicken in an even layer in a large baking pan.
  • Sprinkle evenly with kosher salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Rinse the chicken and pan thoroughly of salt, return the chicken to the baking dish along with the onion slices.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk, beer and chili sauce, pour evenly over the chicken, cover and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
  • In a medium sized bowl stir together the flour, black pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and brown sugar.
  • One at a time remove the chicken legs, dredge in the flour mixture then gently re-dip in the marinade and recoat with the flour mixture (double coating of the flour mixture will give you a crispier chicken), set on a baking sheet.
  • Allow the coated chicken to sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • At the oil to a large pot until about 6 inches deep, heat to 350 degrees using a cooking thermometer clipped to the pan, adjust heat to maintain that temperature.
  • Working in batches fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes each.

Beer Fried Chicken3

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Wendy January 31, 2014 um 4:38 am

Suppose you are someone who is afraid to have that much hot grease anywhere near her; could this be accomplished in a shallower pan? If so, do you estimate the time for cooking to be double since you’d have to flip the pieces over? I was seriously burned once by hot grease while cooking, so I really have no desire to have 6″ of it to work with.


Jackie February 2, 2014 um 8:56 am

I totally understand. A lot of southerners that I know use Crisco in the bottom of a deep skillet and just turn the chicken until it’s browned and cooked through.


Cassie January 31, 2014 um 6:50 am

LOVE. I practically grew up on fried chicken and I thought it couldn’t get any better. Until now. 🙂


Mark January 31, 2014 um 7:52 am

Lovely story, recipe looks pretty good, too!


Sophia @ NY Foodgasm January 31, 2014 um 11:20 am

You know how to do it in the kitchen Jackie and I really enjoyed the story. It is nice to hear of the good people in those neighborhoods! People are so focused on the bad,


Paula – bell’alimento January 31, 2014 um 2:15 pm

Great story! Fried chicken is just one of those meals that is always a winner. I am always on the search for the a new recipe for it. I must try this recipe soon!


Laurie {Simply Scratch} January 31, 2014 um 3:42 pm

Beer makes everything better! Awesome story Jackie!


William Stands January 31, 2014 um 11:31 pm

Great stories! So many food blogs have terrible writing and your stories are always great to read. And the chicken looks good too!


sue/the view from great island February 1, 2014 um 3:32 pm

Double dips all around…got it!


addie | culicurious February 1, 2014 um 4:56 pm

I am a huge fan of fried chicken and this looks wonderful! 🙂


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