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In two Aug. 19, 2016, Chicago Tribune articles, reporters Jay Jones and Joe Gray revealed what they believed to be The Kentucky Colonel’s original recipe of 11 herbs and spices for his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken. Colonel Harland Sander’s nephew, Joe Ledington, found the handwritten recipe in a scrapbook belonging to his late Aunt Claudia, Sanders' second wife. No one knows for sure if this is really it, but why should that stop us from trying it and deciding for ourselves if it tastes the same?

Fried Chicken with 11 Herbs and Spices

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves

1 1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves

1 tsp. dried oregano leaves

1 Tbsp. celery salt

1 Tbsp. ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. dried mustard

4 Tbsp. paprika

2 Tbsp. garlic salt

1 Tbsp. ground ginger

3 Tbsp. ground white pepper

1 c. buttermilk

1 egg, beaten

1 chicken, cut up, the breast pieces cut in half for more even frying

Canola oil for frying

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MSG (See below)

Mix the flour in a bowl with all the herbs and spices; set aside.

Mix the buttermilk and egg together in a separate bowl until combined. Soak the chicken in the buttermilk mixture at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove chicken from the buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Dip the chicken pieces in the herb-spice-flour mixture to coat all sides, shaking off excess. Allow to sit on a rack over a baking sheet, 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat about 3 inches of the oil in a large Dutch oven (or similar heavy pot with high sides) over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. (Use a deep-frying thermometer to check the temperature.) When temperature is reached, lower the heat to medium to maintain it at 350. Fry 3 or 4 pieces at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. Fry until medium golden brown, turning once, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer chicken pieces to a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Allow the oil to return to temperature before adding more chicken. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Sprinkle a little MSG on the finished chicken pieces right before eating. According to the Chicago Tribune article, KFC confirmed that they use MSG.

Pair this with Santa Barbara Winery 2014 Santa Rita Hills Rosé of Syrah. Produced in a dry style with serious winemaking techniques, this vintage has ample weight to enjoy with all but the heartiest of foods, including fried chicken! The 2014 Rosé of Syrah is composed of syrah fruit from Hilltop Ranch Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills AVA, on an adjoining property to Lafond Vineyard. Delightfully refreshing, winemaker Bruce McGuire says, “The grapes were destemmed and hand sorted, followed by an overnight cold soak on the skins prior to pressing for proper color intensity. A cool fermentation took place entirely in stainless steel tanks. Rich, ripe flavors of red plums and allspice reflect the cool climate origins of this Santa Rita Hills syrah.”


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John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook, "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at