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Aspen Food & Wine: Chef Marcus Samuelsson flies right with yard bird chicken

This past weekend, the country's biggest names in the world of food and drink swarmed the streets, sidewalks and sod of Aspen as part of the 32nd annual Food & Wine Classic, a four-day culinary immersion that included a party every minute; numerous wine tastings and cocktail seminars; pig, pig and more pig; and cooking demonstrations from some of America's most notable kitchen wizards, including Marcus Samuelsson, the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef and restaurateur who owns Red Rooster, a melting pot of comfort food in Harlem, New York. This year, Samuelsson taught a cooking demo entitled the "Whole Nine Yards," which was dedicated to chicken -- and utilizing every part of that chicken, whether it's to make deviled eggs, fried chicken mayonnaise, or what Samuelsson calls his "fried yard bird," the recipe of which (along with some tips for those who want to make it at home), is on the next page.

See also: Mezcal, tacos and barbecue: Seven tasty events from this week's culinary calendar

Samuelsson's recipe calls for buttermilk as well as coconut milk. "The buttermilk gives it a beautiful sourness, while the coconut milk gives it a beautiful creaminess," says Samuelsson, who dusts the amber-crusted chicken with an Ethiopian spice blend before splashing the exteriors with fresh lemon. "The result is an absolutely delicious, flavorful and crispy chicken," he promises. And to coax out the maximum flavor, he adds, "you always want to season it with salt."

Fried Yard Bird Chicken 4 servings

1 cup salt 8 cups water 4 chicken thighs, skin-on 4 chicken drumsticks, skin-on 1 quart buttermilk 3/4 cup coconut milk 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon chicken shake, plus more for seasoning (recipe follows) 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup semolina flour 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 tablespoon ground white pepper 5 quarts frying oil

Chicken Shake

1/2 cup ground garlic 1/2 cup celery salt 1/2 cup ground cumin 1 cup berbere 1 cup smoked spicy paprika 1/8 cup kosher salt 1/2 cup ground white pepper


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1. Combine salt and water and mix until dissolved. Place chicken in brine and let sit for 1 1/2 hours. 2. Combine buttermilk, coconut milk, garlic and chicken shake. Add chicken and refrigerate overnight. 3. Combine all-purpose flour, semolina flour, cornstarch and while pepper to make the breading. 4. Remove chicken from brine, allowing excess brine to drip off. 5. Roll chicken in breading, shaking off excess. 6. Fill an 8-court pot with the oil and heat to 300 degrees. Once the oil reaches temp, drop the thighs and drumsticks into oil and fry for about fifteen minutes; the inner temperature should read at least 165 degrees. 7. Remove chicken from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Season liberally with chicken shake.

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