“Frisky Ducky” Fried Chicken


Recipe courtesy of Janelle Weaver, Executive Chef
Propietress of The Bewildered Pig

We use organic Cornish game hens for this dish, as then everyone gets white and dark meat, without being over-full. Plus, they’re just so darn cute on the plate!  We use buttermilk to marinate them, which tenderizes the meat and provides a subtle “tanginess.”  A few secret spices may force you to a specialty market, but they are worth it. If you can’t get them right away, just leave them out. The recipe will work just as well.

What is important is to marinate the chicken long enough, and also to let it sit in the dredge long enough.  Don’t skimp on those two things!

This recipe is enough for 3-4 full game hens.  We serve a half-hen per serving, but you may want more.

3-4 Cornish Game Hens

1 qt. Whole Buttermilk
1 bunch fresh marjoram

3 c. All Purpose Flour
2 c. Rice Flour
1 T. Baking Powder
3 T. Kosher Salt
1 T. ground black pepper
1-2 T. Cayenne Pepper
3 T. ground porcini powder

Duck Fat
Non GMO Canola Oil
Cast Iron Skillet

2 sheet pans with racks
2 tongs
1 large spoon
pan for marinating
pan for dredge


Break down the game hens into 8 pieces, removing the wing tips and boning out the breasts.  We reserve all of the bones to make the gravy, another secret!

Remove the leaves from the marjoram. Into a pan that will fit all of the ingredients AND fit into your refrigerator, add the buttermilk, whole leaves of marjoram, and chicken pieces. Season with salt & pepper and toss. Cover and let marinate at least 2 hours, preferably 12.

Combine all of the dredge ingredients and whisk together. Have ready a clean sheet pan fitted with a rack.  Using tongs, removing each piece of chicken individually, shaking a bit of buttermilk off of each – but not too much – and place into the dredge.  (We like the little marjoram leaves to stay with the chicken. They add a lovely floral and fresh taste to the chicken when fried!)  Using the large spoon, cover the chicken with dredge. Gently push down to ensure the dredge sticks.  Lift from the dredge and cover with more as needed.  Remove and set onto sheet pan. Repeat with all of the chicken pieces.  Put them with “like” parts, and do not let them touch.   When complete, place the chicken back into the refrigerator, uncovered, until ready to fry, but at least an hour and up to six.

Combine the duck fat and canola oil (about half and half – you can eyeball this) in a cast iron skillet to come up half way.  (Alternatively, you can use all duck fat, if you want to be super decadent!) Heat to 350 degrees.  It is important to maintain the 350 degrees, so you will need to use your thermometer and adjust the heat as you go…adding chicken to the pan will quickly cause the temperature to drop, and so you’ll need to keep a close eye on it until you’re used to the “rhythm.”  Don’t overcrowd the pan.  Fry like parts at a time.

Place each piece of chicken into the hot fat and cook until golden brown: not blond, not too dark.  The internal temperature of each piece should be 160 degrees.  Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon onto the other sheet pan fitted with a rack.  Do not pile the hot chicken. Give it room to cool.  You may pre-fry the chicken and reheat to serve, so this is a great recipe for entertaining. Of course, it’s best fresh, so you decide. If you do reheat, do so at 375 degrees until sizzling.

We serve ours with buttermilk mashed potatoes and a porcini chicken gravy…and seasonal veggies, currently Brussels sprouts.  Enjoy!



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