Sydney Meers’ Fried Chicken

It’s not every day that a born-and-bred Southerner will take the time to walk you through his grandmother’s recipe for foolproof fried chicken. Which is why we fell all over ourselves saying yes when Sydney Meers, owner and chef of the quaint, quirky, aptly named Stove restaurant in Portsmouth,Virginia, said he’d indulge us. Syd, we’d write you a proper thank you, but our gratitude upon tasting this is rendering us wordless.–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC Saying Grace Note

We know it’s tradition to say grace before a meal. But we think this fried chicken will make you want to say grace after as well, regardless of whether you consider yourself religious.

Sydney Meers' Fried Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 4


  • For the brine
  • 1 1/2 gallons cool water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 5 dried bay leaves, crushed
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • One whole 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • For the fry
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal (it doesn’t matter if it’s yellow or white)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (no prejudices here, either black or white is fine)
  • Lard or bacon drippings, for frying


  • Brine the chicken
  • 1. In a large bowl, combine the water, salt, bay leaves, and rosemary, and stir until the salt is dissolved. Pat the chicken dry. Place the chicken pieces in the brine and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 1 hour.
  • Fry the chicken
  • 2. Sift the flour and cornmeal together in a shallow bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 3. Remove the chicken pieces from the brine, flicking off any pieces of herbs that may cling to the skin. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, flipping and flouring the meat until it’s completely coated.
  • 4. Heat about a 1/2 inch of lard or bacon drippings in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-highish heat until it bubbles and the sound it makes shifts from a sizzle to a gurgle. If you want a more foolproof indicator, it’s ready when you drop a pinch of flour in the oil and it hisses. Using tongs, snuggle the chicken, skin side up, into the skillet, being careful to handle only the big ends of the bones. You may need to work in batches and adjust the heat slightly so the chicken doesn’t brown to quickly. Fry the chicken for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, until all the chicken pieces are a shimmering golden brown. Remove them from the pan and let rest a spell on paper towels before diving in.
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