When I was a kid growing up in Detroit, I would call my grandmother every weekend and ask her to come over to my house to indulge in breakfast, card games, and random car rides around our neighborhood. No matter what she had going on that day, she could never resist one of my favorite childhood staples for breakfast: buttermilk biscuits. Biscuits in my household went through quite the journey. My mother started making biscuits by simply popping open a can and calling it a day. While I’ll always be a fan of kitchen shortcuts, this one didn’t last long in a house full of refined taste buds. So when my mother began making my grandfather's flaky biscuit recipe, she never looked back—and neither have I.
I no longer live in Detroit, and can no longer call my grandmother every weekend to come over, but these biscuits remain a staple in my New York kitchen. Every biscuit is a unique experience. Sometimes a simple spread of jam and butter will do, and other times these biscuits become a vessel for something wonderful—like a crispy piece of spicy, buttermilk fried chicken (or catfish, if I’m feeling spontaneous). I’ve always preferred to eat fried chicken in between a sliced biscuit because of the complexity in texture and buttery flavor that comes with every bite.
While my fried chicken biscuits are delicious, they are also much more than that. They represent the search for the recipes and traditions that lie within my bloodline. Oftentimes, it’s easy for the stories of African Americans to be forgotten or lost because our country has attempted to erase and hide our history. That’s why I feel a significant responsibility to seek out the memories and recipes created by my ancestors. As a child, I would frequently walk into one of my family members' or friends' homes and smell the aromas of chicken frying. The quick whiff of seasoned chicken and oil at the front door always drew me in to investigate what was happening in the kitchen. These moments made me hungry to know how everyone put their spin on classic soul food dishes.
As a Black man, I’ve had a fair share of shame passed down to me from society for simply taking up space and finding joy in the recipes and traditions that I’m drawn to. As a child, I thought that being myself was too much for the world, and that I should try and fit into a preordained status quo. It was only through countless influential conversations with friends and family that I learned that being my full self was adequate enough. I also learned to embrace the recipes that I had always known to be home, and to never empower society's perspectives and unschooled stereotypes to ruin who I am or what I love.
"I feel a responsibility to seek out the memories and recipes created by my ancestors."
These conversations also taught me the importance of cooking to create memories and meaningful connections. When my grandfather passed down this buttermilk biscuit recipe, I vividly remember my mother making the biscuits every single chance she got. I believe that she made them so frequently because they represented a sense of comfort, familiarity, and love to our household. No matter how many times she asked me to either grab the flour or pull the dough cutter out from one of the drawers, I never got tired of making biscuits with her. I knew these memories would be something that I could cherish forever.
Creating my own traditions and passing down recipes to my friends and family has become paramount to my cooking. I’ve also learned to put my own spin on these generational recipes. These biscuits started off as a simple, five-ingredient recipe, and I’ve adapted them to my current story and the new flavors that I’m endlessly chasing. Just like my mom would switch up her classic weeknight dinner meals to fulfill the never-ending cravings of our family, I’ve done the same thing with this recipe. I swapped out vegetable shortening for butter in the biscuits to create a creamier texture and buttery taste; I increased the amount of baking soda and powder to add tenderness and for ample rise; and I increased the biscuit size to create more surface room for the fried chicken. My fried chicken recipe has remained almost identical to the method I learned from my mother, though I’ve added some heat and perfected a few techniques for crispier results.
These biscuits and fried chicken always remind me of my roots, those weekends with my grandmother, and the countless witty stories connected with each ingredient. When the fresh-baked biscuits peek out of the oven and buttermilk-brined chicken starts frying in oil, I feel at home.
My One Big Tip for Making Fried Chicken Biscuits: Keep Everything Cold
Like many cooks, I have a particular way of preparing my meals, to ensure that I’m rewarded with a delicious ending, most of the time. This recipe doesn’t require a full day in the kitchen, though it does take patience and planning. Biscuits are one of those recipes that requires a little extra attention so that they’ll come out perfect.
So here it is, my one big tip for making fried chicken biscuits: keep everything cold. The key to making flaky and soft biscuits is to work quickly and ensure the butter and buttermilk are pulled from the fridge right before using them. I also like popping my cut biscuits into the freezer for 10 minutes before baking. The same goes for my spicy fried chicken. You want to move quickly when removing the chicken from the buttermilk brine and adding it to the breading so that the chicken remains ice-cold, before frying. This ensures extra crispy pieces of chicken.
What Parts of the Chicken Should I Use for This Recipe?
You can swap out the chicken thighs for wings or legs and if you prefer bone-in and skin-on chicken. Just be sure to fry the chicken a bit longer, until fully cooked.
What Should I Serve The Sandwiches With?
This sandwich is quite delightful when it’s topped with pickled vegetables or peppers, honey, and hot sauce. When I’m looking for a heartier meal, I love to whip up a quick slaw, baked Macaroni and Cheese, Potato Salad, or Braised Collard Greens.
Will Coleman's Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches
For the spicy fried chicken
1 1/2 to 2 pounds (6 pieces) boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 cups full-fat buttermilk
3 tablespoons crushed chilies, plus more for garnish (such as Gochugaru), divided
1 tablespoon smoked paprika, divided
1 tablespoon granulated garlic, divided
1 teaspoon ground mustard
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
Maldon salt, for garnish
For the buttermilk biscuits
3 cups (395g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon (11g) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons (9g) baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cups (170g) cold butter, sliced into small pieces
1 1/4 cups (350g) cold full-fat buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Pickled vegetables, jalapeños and/or onions
Preheat the oven and prepare baking sheets:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Set aside until ready to use.
Marinate the chicken:
In a large bowl or gallon storage bag, combine the buttermilk, 1 1/2 tablespoons crushed chilies, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic, ground mustard, celery seed, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat in the marinade. Once everything is combined, store in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 to 4 hours, or up to overnight.
For the biscuits combine dry ingredients and cut in butter:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Place the cold butter pieces into the flour mixture. Using a dough cutter, cut the pieces of butter into the flour. This can be achieved by using a rocking motion with the dough cutter or by using your fingertips to break up the butter into smaller pieces. The butter should resemble a coarse meal.
Pour in the buttermilk:
Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Fold the mixture together with a large spoon, or rubber spatula until it comes together into a shaggy, crumbly mixture. Be sure not to overwork the dough.
Press and fold the dough:
Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured surface. Press the dough together with your hands until the dough is compacted together and no longer shaggy. Form the dough into a square, then roll out the dough into a 3/4-inch thick square. Fold the dough in half four to six times, while lightly patting the dough down with your hands. This will help to create layers in the biscuit. Roll out the dough into a 8-inch square.
Cut into biscuits:
Using a 3 3/4 to 4 inch round biscuit cutter or ramekin dipped in flour, cut the dough without twisting the cutter, flouring the cutter between each cut. Gently press together the remaining dough and form it into a square. Roll out the remaining dough and follow the same step with the next pieces. Once all of the biscuits are cut, place them onto the baking sheet with parchment and sprinkled flour. Be sure to space the biscuits out 1 1/2 inches apart.
Freeze the biscuits:
Place into the freezer for 10 minutes to cool.
Brush biscuits with melted butter and bake:
Then, using a pastry brush, brush the biscuits with butter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Preheat the oil and set up baking sheets with wire racks for the fried chicken:
Once you’re ready to fry the chicken, place a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan over medium heat and pour the vegetable oil in until it is about 3/4 inches deep. Using a thermometer, heat the oil until it reaches 350°F.
Set up two baking sheets with wire racks (one should be covered with paper towel for when you are ready to fry). Set aside until ready to use.
Make the dredge for the chicken:
In the meantime, combine the flour, remaining crushed chilies, paprika, granulated garlic, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
Dredge the chicken:
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and allow the excess buttermilk to drip off. Individually dredge each piece into the flour mixture making sure the chicken is fully coated. As you coat each piece of chicken, transfer onto the baking sheet with the wire rack, to prevent the coating from coming off.
Fry the chicken:
Preheat oven to warm, in preparation of the cooked fried chicken. Once the oil reaches 350°F place three to four pieces of chicken into the pan, you’ll have to cook the chicken in batches. Once the chicken is in the oil, the temperature will drop slightly, raise the heat, and closely monitor the oil temperature.
Fry the chicken for 14 to 16 minutes, turning each piece about halfway through. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and the outer chicken is golden brown and crispy.
Remove the chicken from the oil and place onto a clean wire rack. Sprinkle the chicken with Maldon salt and crushed chili. Place the first batch of chicken into the warm oven.
Repeat with remaining chicken.
Assemble the sandwiches and serve:
Cut the biscuits in half. Place the cooked chicken onto the bottom piece of a biscuit and top with chopped chives, honey, and pickled vegetables. Top each sandwich with the top biscuit piece and serve immediately.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 53g||68%|
|Saturated Fat 25g||123%|
|Total Carbohydrate 62g||22%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||10%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 12mg||58%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|