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(Bob Deutscher for The Globe and Mail)
(Bob Deutscher for The Globe and Mail)

Recipe: Wow at the next potluck with Kickin’ Fried Chicken Add to ...

If you caught an episode of Top Chef Canada in its first season a few years ago, you probably saw Dale MacKay as a cutthroat cook with tons of swagger. The Season One winner doesn’t deny it. “I’m really competitive,” he says with a chuckle. “I never give up and I never show weakness.” With mentors like Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud, MacKay developed his thick skin in London, Japan, Singapore and New York, working at one hot restaurant after another. But sometimes the Saskatchewan native can’t help but show his softer side. For example, his voice changes when he admits he bit off too large a piece with Ensemble, his Vancouver venture that closed in 2012. He gets squishier still when he talks about the kitchen crew – led by executive chef Nathan Guggenheimer – that recently moved from B.C. to Saskatoon to help open his new place. And he practically melts when he speaks about his son Ayden, for whom the restaurant is named. As a single dad, MacKay endeavours to involve Ayden (the boy) in whatever he does, including the Sunday potlucks for the staff of Ayden (the restaurant). These lively nights might be at his place or at Guggenheimer’s; they might feature pulled pork or this crispy fried chicken. But that fiercely competitive personality you saw on TV? Never makes it past the front door.

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  • Ready time: 55 minutes, plus marinating time
  • Servings: 8


1/3 cup onion powder, divided

1/3 cup garlic powder, divided

5 tbsp paprika, divided

3 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp chili flakes

1/4 cup salt, divided

5 tsp black pepper, divided

2 tbsp coriander

1 tbsp rosemary

8 cups buttermilk

Zest of 3 lemons

1 tbsp lemon juice

8 chicken legs, split into thighs and drumstick

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tbsp dried ginger

Canola oil for frying


To make the marinade, combine 1/4 cup each of onion and garlic powder, 3 tbsp paprika, smoked paprika, chili flakes, 3 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp pepper, coriander and rosemary in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest and juice until a smooth mixture forms.

Add chicken, ensuring it is fully submerged. Wrap the bowl tightly with cling film and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the dredging mixture. Combine flour, remaining onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and ginger in a large bowl and stir to combine. Remove chicken from buttermilk and shake off excess. Place chicken pieces in the flour and toss to coat.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Fill a deep skillet with canola oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil to 385 F and fry the chicken for approximately 10 minutes per side, until crisp and golden. Transfer the chicken to a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Reheat it in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes and serve.

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