Throwback Thursday: Norah Jones Shares Recipe for Gus’s Fried Chicken

This Gus's Fried Chicken taste-alike from singer Norah Jones tastes like the real thing.

My sister Debbie is a great cook with a real feel for updated Southern cooking. During a visit with her in Richmond this week, I discovered we had both saved Norah Jones' recipe for fried chicken, printed a few weeks ago in Parade magazine.

The recipe is particularly appealing because Jones has tweaked it to taste like Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. According to the article, Jones became obsessed with Gus's chicken (who can blame her?) while filming “My Blueberry Nights” in Memphis in 2006. Her recipe soaks the chicken in buttermilk and uses onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne and hot sauce to kick up the more traditional salt and pepper seasoning.

As most chicken lovers in Memphis know, Gus's prides itself on its secret spicy recipe. I was curious to see how Jones' version holds up, so Debbie and I fried up a platter. We were intrigued with the addition of onion rings soaked in buttermilk and tossed in the hot oil along with the chicken.

So how did the chicken taste? Exceptionally good, so click here and bookmark the recipe. The chicken skin, especially the second batch of chicken fried when the oil was sizzling hot, had Gus's trademark crispy crunch. The flavor wasn't quite as spicy, but more seasoning could easily ratchet up the heat.

The onion rings in the dish also added a nice sweet taste and texture, although most of the batter fell off when they were fried. If you are a fried food expert, please pass along any tips for my next try. Would onions sliced thicker hold up better in the pan?

A reader passed along these suggestions when this story was originally posted in July 2012. The comment was anonymous, so unfortunately, I can’t give credit to these great cooking tips for frying onions.

I worked as a teenager at an independent fast-food restaurant in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. called TJ's hamburgers. They had the best onion rings I have had to date. We would slice Vidalia onions and toss them in regular white seasoned (to your taste) flour. We would then take the onions out of the flour mixture and place them in the walk-in cooler overnight. After sitting overnight we would take the onions and dip them in a batter of eggs and evaporated milk (or buttermilk if you would like.)

Eggs and evaporated milk are calabash style cooking in the South. After dipping the onions in the egg and milk mixture, roll them in yellow flower and then deep fry until golden brown. Just remember you can season the flour and milk anyway you like it. Enjoy!"

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