Crispy, golden, flavorful: That’s Terrine’s pickle-brined fried chicken. Here’s the recipe.

Terrine's pickle-brined fried chicken.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Done right, fried chicken is a beautiful thing. Unpretentious as this classic comfort food might be, there’s a definite art to it: a tender piece of meat, delicately seasoned and lightly dredged with a dusting of flour, then baptized in a pool of sizzling fat to crisp, golden perfection. And while fans of fried chicken may disagree on the method, we can all agree that it requires technique, time and dedication — fried chicken is not “fast food.”

At Terrine restaurant on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, chef Kris Morningstar offers his take on the classic with a pickle-brined fried chicken. Morningstar doesn’t brine the chicken in actual pickle juice; rather, he brines chicken thighs overnight in a mixture of pickling spice, garlic and fresh dill — at the restaurant, he also injects the thighs with brine for added flavor — and then coats them with a cayenne-flavored cornstarch slurry. After dredging them in a spiced flour coating, he rests the thighs on a rack in the refrigerator for an hour; the extra drying time makes for an extra-crisp crust. Morningstar serves the chicken over a bed of warm grits drizzled with maple syrup. The chicken has just the right amount of savory tang, the pickle brine playing nicely against the sweetness of the maple.



2 hours, 20 minutes, plus brining time. Serves 6 to 8.


2 quarts water

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (125 grams) kosher salt

¼ cup plus 1 heaping teaspoon (62.5 grams) sugar

6 tablespoons pickling spice

1 head garlic, split

1 ounce fresh dill

3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken

1. In a heavy pot, combine the water, salt, sugar, spice, garlic and dill and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat and cool completely.

2. Place the thighs in a non-reactive container. Pour the brine over the thighs, keeping the thighs submerged, cover and refrigerate overnight.


About 1 ½ cups cornstarch

2 teaspoons cayenne powder, or to taste, divided

1 cup water

1 ½ teaspoons paprika

1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper

2 cups Wondra flour

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Brined chicken thighs

Canola or vegetable oil, for frying

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (or to taste), and the water to form a slurry. Set aside.

2. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the remaining teaspoon cayenne, the paprika, Old Bay seasoning, pepper, flours and salt.

3. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Dip a piece into the slurry. Shake the excess slurry off the piece and dredge in the flour to coat completely. Place the chicken on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, for 1 hour.

4. When the chicken is almost ready, heat a deep-fryer or heavy pot filled at least 3 inches deep with oil to a temperature of 325 degrees.

5. Fry the chicken, 2 to 3 pieces at a time, until the skin is crisp and golden-brown, the meat is white and firm and a thermometer inserted reads 165 degrees, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain the chicken on a rack, and serve immediately.

Each of 8 servings: Calories 641; Protein 31 grams; Carbohydrates 58 grams; Fiber 1 gram; Fat 31 grams; Saturated fat 6 grams; Cholesterol 152 mg; Sugar 1 gram; Sodium 882 mg

Note: Adapted from a recipe by chef Kris Morningstar of Terrine restaurant in Los Angeles.