Acme’s Pecan-Crusted Fried Chicken

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 Specialty of the House recipe

This Pecan-Crusted Fried Chicken recipe was requested by a reader for The News & Observer’s monthly Specialty of the House column. It has been adapted from chef Kevin Callaghan, owner of Acme Food & Beverage Co. in Carrboro. Callaghan offers this advice: Pecans can burn fairly easily, so it’s best to use boneless chicken since the bone-in chicken takes longer to cook. Or you can finish bone-in chicken in a 350-degree oven. To see the original story, go to

Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, The N&O, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; or email

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup self-rising flour

2/3 cup pecans, finely ground

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

About 1 cup canola oil

About 1 cup bacon fat

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter

PLACE chicken thighs in a plastic zip-top bag and cover with buttermilk and eggs. Place in refrigerator for at least four hours. Let rest at room temperature for at one hour before cooking.

COMBINE flour, pecans, salt, pepper and onion powder in a shallow bowl or pie pan. Seasoning can be adjusted to taste. Set aside.

HEAT oil, fat and butter in a large cast-iron skillet to a constant 350 degrees. (How much oil, fat and butter you will need depends on the size of the skillet; Callaghan recommends a third of each. Aim for the bubbling oil and fat to come halfway up the sides of the chicken.) To test the dredge seasoning, drop a bit of buttermilk and egg mixture into the dredge, make a small ball and fry it. Let cook for a minute or so, then taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

DREDGE chicken and fry in small batches, about 5-7 minutes per piece. Be careful not to overcrowd the chicken, which will cause the crust to steam. Turn chicken only once. The nuts make the crust a bit fragile, so be gentle.

ONCE cooked, chicken will hold temperature for 10 minutes.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

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