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An Iconic Fried Chicken Recipe from Napa

It may surprise you to know that the humble chicken, the one that has been dressed up, stripped down, spatchcocked, roasted on a spit and gotten every treatment under the oven fire, still has methods of preparation that can surprise.

“If you’ve visited Boon Fly Café, chances are you have either heard of or tried our award-winning fried chicken,” says Aaron Meneghelli, chef, Boon Fly Café in Napa.

Part of the Carneros Resort, Boon Fly Café makes its iconic dish by soaking a half-chicken in a buttermilk and tabasco bath for 24 hours, and then drenches its skin and meat with an unforgettable blend of heat and spice. Hungry yet?

Thanks to The Essential Napa Valley Cookbook you can learn how to make this Napa-famous chicken wherever you are in the world.

Along with Boon Fly Café, you’ll find over 35 recipes from other local spots like Model Bakery, Bounty Hunter and Gott. Best of all, 75% of the cookbook’s proceeds go to hospitality workers who have been impacted by the novel coronavirus and the wildfires. The other 25% go to Feed Napa Now, a group of farmers, chefs and restaurant pros who help bring food to the region’s families in need.

Boon Fly Café 's fried chicken
Photo by Alexander Rubin Photography

Boon Fly Café’s Fried Chicken

Courtesy The Essential Napa Valley Cookbook by Jess Lander


1 chicken, cut into 10 pieces for frying
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup Frank’s RedHot (or other buffalo wing hot sauce)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika, separated
Cayenne pepper, to taste
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup crushed corn flakes
Canola oil for frying


To make the marinade, combine buttermilk, hot sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, 1½ teaspoons of the paprika, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. After the chicken has been butchered into the 10 pieces, place the pieces in the marinade (large ziploc bags work well) and refrigerate for 12–24 hours.

When ready to cook: Preheat four to five inches of canola oil, or just under halfway, in a deep sauce or stockpot to 325°F. (Note: Try to choose a pot deep enough to hold the chicken in the oil without overflowing, but if needed, just fry the chicken in smaller batches to avoid an overflow.) In a large bowl, mix together the flour, kosher salt, black pepper, crushed corn flakes, and the other 1½ teaspoons of the paprika to create the flour dredge. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and drain it from the marinade. Thoroughly coat the chicken pieces in the flour dredge.

Keeping the pot on medium heat, gently submerge the chicken into the hot oil one piece at a time, ensuring the chicken is fully submerged, and cook for 13 minutes, keeping an eye on the temperature of the oil. If you have a large enough pot, you can fry the chicken in two batches, cooking five pieces at once. If needed, smaller, three-piece batches are not a problem. Once cooked, carefully remove from the oil with tongs and let drain on a rack or platter lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. If needed or desired, a quick reheat in your oven at 350° F for five minutes will keep it hot and crispy.

Transfer the chicken to a bowl or platter to be served. A spicy and/or acidic sauce of your choice is great to pour over the chicken or a simple drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of sea salt would be great as well. Serve with Yukon gold potatoes and braised garden greens, or waffles with maple syrup and powdered sugar for brunch. Serves 2-3.

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